When seconds count, the police are minutes away – if they come at all

I have said all along that our current financial crisis is a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Governments at all levels are simply overspending. I find it interesting that, when faced with a budget crisis and taxpayers who are fed up, most governments will start cutting the services that directly affect our daily lives – police, firemen, closing parks and libraries. Here in Jacksonville, it was revealed that we were buying smartphones for school janitors for crying out loud. I mean, if you want to start cutting the budget, that kind of thing would be a good place to start. Or how about hacking away at the multiple layers of mindless, make-work bureaucracy – like the Deputy Assistant to the Assistant Deputy of the Supervisor of the Department of Redundancy Department. That’s where the cuts should start – not essential services.

Here’s a story (from USA Today) that perfectly illustrates this phenomenon. In some cities, police will no longer respond to certain crimes because they’re “understaffed.” Serves you stingy taxpayers right for wanting to cut the budget!

Budget cuts are forcing police around the country to stop responding to fraud, burglary and theft calls as officers focus limited resources on violent crime.

Cutbacks in such places as Oakland, Tulsa and Norton, Mass. have forced police to tell residents to file their own reports — online or in writing — for break-ins and other lesser crimes.

“If you come home to find your house burglarized and you call, we’re not coming,” said Oakland Police spokeswoman Holly Joshi. The city laid off 80 officers from its force of 687 last month and the department can’t respond to burglary, vandalism, and identity theft. “It’s amazing. It’s a big change for us.”

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, said cutbacks are preventing many police agencies from responding to property crimes.

“The chiefs are putting the best face on this they can,” Pasco said. “But think of this: that next property crime could involve a junkie who killed someone the night before.”

In Tulsa, which lost 110 officers to layoffs and retirements, the 739-officer department isn’t sending cops to the scene of larceny, fraud and car theft.

Tulsa police spokesman Jason Willingham says some residents have said they won’t bother to report those crimes any more. “They think nothing is going to be done, so why mess with it,” he said.

In the Boston suburb of Norton, police told residents there may be delays or no response at all to some calls, including vandalism. The department posted the new policy on its website.

“We wanted to let people know about this,” Norton Police Chief Brian Clark said. “We didn’t want people to be surprised.”

Bernard Melekian, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, said the actions reflect are a reflection of the hard economic times across the country.

Is this a sad fact of life in hard economic times or is it bullshit? According to FBI crime statistics, crime in every category they track is down significantly since 2000 (with a minor uptick in 2005). Not only violent crime, but every category including property crimes and theft. Given that some of this may be attributable to lower reporting of crimes, the numbers may not reflect actual crimes. However, one would think that an overall decrease in all crime over a 10 year period would hardly leave police agencies stretched to the limit.

What is a sad fact is that, in the vast majority of non-violent crimes, the rate of closure has dropped to almost insignificant levels anyway. Even if the cops do show up for a burglary, the chance that they’ll catch the crook and recover your stuff is almost nil.

Protection of your life and property is one of the core responsibilities of government. This kind of thing is dereliction of duty in the name of shaking down the taxpayer.

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One Response to “When seconds count, the police are minutes away – if they come at all”

  1. […] stopped responding to certain crimes like property crimes and traffic accidents. (previous post here) Other local governments have taken the revenue increase approach by charging per incident fees for […]

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