It’s the 200-pound brute cohabitating every police management office across the states: the budget gorilla.
This year’s roundtable proves that some curse words have more than four letters, and the big one of these last years, and according to the roundtable participants, likely years to come, is budget.
In this discussion of the police industry and profession, the Law Enforcement Technology management roundtable offers their individual 10- and 10,000-foot insights of where law enforcement is going and where it’s been.
2010 has proved a hear of further cutbacks, layoffs and other economic related challenges that law enforcement mangers are continuing to grapple.
But there's some lighter fare too. In addition to their department-specific insight on how to deal, the roundtable managers also share their favorite technological developments from their career (fingerprint tech, electric shock weapons, CAD), wish lists for problems the industry should address (ballistic T-shirts?), and the continued evolution of the police profession "police departments cannot operate in a silo ...).
What were the biggest challenges law enforcement faced throughout the past year?
Chief Kiederlen: Increased demand for service and lower budgets.
Lt. Twombly: It’s budget right now. This is going to be one of the big issues if not No. 1 issue in the top five that’s going to be facing departments for the next couple of years at a minimum until the economy improves. Because as Wisconsin, I think we’ve been pretty fortunate in comparison with other parts of the country that I’m sure you’ve talked to. Where they’ve had to lay off big numbers of staff and cut budgets pretty dramatically, we haven’t around here had to do that at this point, but I don’t know if that is a combination of Wisconsin really hasn’t been hit by the economy as much as other parts of the country.
Chief Yaniero: Because of the most recent downturn in the economy and the housing market, one of the greatest challenges will be in meeting the demand for services with reductions in tax revenues. In addition, state and federal mandates, without additional federal funding, have forced police agencies to cut services. In my opinion, these mandates and budget constraints have had a profound impact on the ability of law enforcement agencies to engage in proactive policing. This forces an agency to become reactive to crime and community problems.
Have there been any changes to the threats your officers face?
Kiederlen: I think there’s a higher concern of those unknown threats – not so much the potential of terrorists, but the individuals that look at some of those things that have been done and idolize that thing; the bomb-making, IEDs, those types of things. I think there’s a heightened awareness. Is it necessarily a firm belief that, ‘oh, it’s going to happen to me’ type of thing? No, I don’t think so. But I think all of that type of awareness nation-wide and world-wide has put everyone in a different mindset. It used to be we were worried about the guys in the traffic stops; now we’re worried about somebody who’s going to blow up their entire car. For me, I think the best way we can even come close to preventing something like that is by establishing those firm relationships with your community is really your best bet. That’s what my focus has been as a chief – finding ways to interact with your community through everything from class type situations where classes to people about the substation thing, and just a lot of community interaction in whatever way you can to hopefully befriend that one person who might actually find out something that could save a lot of lives.