While I freely admit that I'm not a fan of big government, this blog has nothing to do with that. Just yesterday Officer.com received a press release touting a report titled, "Rethinking the Blues: How we police in the U.S. and at what cost," that has been released by the Justice Policy Institute. As I understand it, the report claims that we spend too much money on law enforcement and go about it all wrong. The report seems to have a negative outlook on the fact that our country maintains over 714,000 police officers.
Here's my challenge with this... actually, I have more than one, so here are my challenges with this:
First, that 714,000+ law enforcement professionals is DOWN from approximately 900,000 less than a decade ago. Remember a decade ago? Wait, let me be more specific: Remember just over ten years ago when 19 terrorists attacked our country and our law enforcement professionals were called upon to stand up and protect our citizens like never before?
Second, police and sheriffs' budgets have been steadily cut, coast to coast, since the economy tanked. No matter how much we hear about the economy recovering, municipal, county and state governments continue to face challenges "making ends meet." What inevitably happens is that public safety takes a hit and budgets get cut. Training gets reduced. Equipment gets more worn (or worn out). Labor hours get cut. Benefits get cut.
Third, let's not forget that whole agencies have been wiped out in the past five to ten years and other agencies have seen their strength slashed by 25%-50%. Last year we saw 177 officers make the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the line of duty, and I can promise you that it is, in some way, related to reduced manpower. If your backup takes longer to arrive, YOUR risk increases. That's the bottom line.
So, to the Justice Policy Institute I say: Think again. I'm just one guy. I'm NOT a think tank funded to study how other groups spend their money (which to me IS a waste of money). I'm a guy who has worn a uniform and a badge for just about 30 years and I haven't seen agencies as financially challenged in that three decades as I've seen them in the past five years. Wasting money? We're spending less on LE than we have in a long time; making do with less; accepting greater risks. In fact, the following is damned close to 100% applicable:
We have done so much with so little for so long that we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.
Come join us as we fight crime on the street. Otherwise, hold your critical tongue. Yes, I'm offended. My brother and sister cops are literally risking and giving their lives, doing far more with far less, and some think tank wants to claim too much money is being spent? Well, we can save a few dollars in our operational budget. Don't respond to any more calls for service at THEIR place of work or residence.
Shaking my head...