Florida Conservative

A Conservative Take on Florida and U.S. Politics

Revamping Law Enforcement

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Thousands of American men and women courageously “serve and protect” as law enforcement officers.  Police Officers, Sheriff Deputies, Constables, and others literally put their lives on the line to keep us safe.  Their herosim and devotion deserve our respect and gratitude.  However, there is such a thing as going too far.  Rather than citing other articles, I’d like to personally address two disturbing trends that need to be fixed sooner rather than later:

(1) Much like the military, law enforcement is put on a pedestal.  Regardless of intent, questioning the actions of these groups is automatically perceived as unpatriotic.  Further, it’s political suicide for elected leaders to make sound decisions that police unions might not like.

(2) An emphasis on “violations” rather than crimes.  In the face of budget cuts, law enforcement often turns to money-making traffic citations rather than emphasizing the prevention and resolution of actual crimes.

If I had the power, I’d completely revamp what I perceive as a troubled, illogical system.  First, I’d outline the goals and rationale.  Then I’d create a simple action plan for everyone to work on.  Finally, I’d report failures and successes to my constituents.  It would work if someone had the courage to try it.

(1) Keep Citizens Safe – That means law enforcement offices must be well-trained and focused on protecting others.  They should be well-armed with everything except nuclear weapons to combat criminal activity.  Officers should also be on the street as much as possible, not filling out paperwork while idling their cars.  Action Plan:  Increase training and equipment budgets.  Decrease paperwork requirements.

(2) Prevent and Solve Crimes – The term “traffic cop” should become extinct.  Officers should be trained like detectives but be out on the street.  They should give grade schools tours of jails (and ask “How would you like to live here?”).  Anti-gang officers should be promoted and supported.  Traffic citations should only be issued by officers actively patrolling (not lying in wait in unmarked cars).  Further, how are unmarked cars useful?  If police cars are a deterrent, unmarked cars are an enabler.  Action Plan: Eliminate traffic citation quotas.  Increase prevention and training budgets.  Eliminate unmarked police cars.

(3) Reduce the Risk to Police Officers – Officers should always work as a pair.  One can drive while the other does the reduced amount of paperwork.  They can back each other up.  The buddy system makes perfect sense.  Officers should also call for backup immediately regarding suspicious activity.  Four officers is better than one.  Action Plan:  Assign officers to work as partners.  Reduce the number of patrol cars.

(4) Maximize Scarce Budget Dollars – Budgets are strapped everywhere (as they should be).  However, law enforcement agencies can maximize their tight budgets by consolidating.  Why should Orlando have police officers, Orange County have Sheriffs, Winter Garden have police officers, and Windermere have police officers?  Everyone would be better served by rolling all metro Orlando police departments into the Sheriff’s Department.  Better communication, larger jurisdiction, and other synergies would simply save money.  Departments should NOT pay overtime (hire more officers instead) and should not allow patrol cars to be taken home at night (increase salaries so cops can afford their own commuter cars instead).  The additional mileage on expensive patrol cars simply isn’t worth it. Action Plan: Consolidate metro PDs into a single county PD.  Hire more officers instead of paying expensive overtime.  Keep patrol cars constantly in use instead of parked at home.

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Written by floridaconservative

January 19, 2011 at 11:30 AM

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