Friday, January 16, 2009

Crime and police department ad nauseum

I was busy with class-related work when I read about Shirley wanting to hire 200 new police officers in six months, and 400 officers by the end of the year. She'd raise taxes to do it. There is the usual political back and forth, although it is not about taxes but about how realistic the idea is:
Later Tuesday, International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623 president Scott Kreher laughed at the idea and said it’s implausible for the city to hire and train several hundred officers by Dec. 31.

Franklin responded by writing a letter to Kreher on Wednesday.

“You chose to make fun of the idea and not give serious consideration to the changes we’ve implemented in the last seven years,” wrote Franklin, who took office in January 2002. “Your comments may lead the public to believe you don’t think the goal is laudable whether it is achieved partially this year or next year.”
The mayor also took some snipes at council members who opportunistically blamed her budget cuts for an increase in crime:
All of the officers, however, were furloughed by Franklin late last month and are working 10 percent less due to an ongoing city budget crisis. The city council is scheduled to vote on a resolution next week to end the furloughs for police officers and firefighters. Franklin has questioned how the council will fund their plan.

“Show me the money,” the mayor said.
The biggest problem I see is that all this squabbling over money and timing misses the real problem with the Police Department, which is lack of management and leadership which contributes to low morale and performance by officers. We've been trying to get to 2,000 officers forever, and one reason we haven't is because we can't find quality recruits who will stay at the APD. Of the 200 new officers Shirley wants to hire, how many will have criminal records?

This is one reason I don't like to use high-profile incidents to set policy. I have no doubt that the response to the Standard murder played a role in this announcement, and it feels a little like an attempt to get the problem off of the desk. It is all reactionary. It is like the mayor is asking, "What can I do to quell the public on this?" not, "What can I do to really fix this problem?"

I'd love to have an extra 200 police officers on the street, I just don't think it addresses the real problem.

1 comment:

  1. I've talked to a few local police officers and, to hear them say it, the problem is morale which comes from a combination of no raises, furloughs (i.e. pay cuts), and looking at administrative types get significant pay increases. Several of them told me that the most senior officers consider morale to be at an all-time low.

    The most insightful one (who also happened to have a management degree) told me that we would probably get more productivity from paying our current officers more than hiring a bunch of new officers.


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