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Dorian's Corner - Commentaries / Opinions

Cut back on police work

I have a lot of respect for the police. But one thing is coming to light in areas like Dallas, where the police are building a good image. They are expected to do too much. An ungrateful society dumps all of its problems on the police and says, "Make them go away."

The police do have too much to do. If there is a traffic accident or fire, the police are there. Crime - police are there. Complaint - police are there. Natural disaster, hazardous weather, or unsafe condition - police. Speeding or unsafe motorist - police. Drunk and unruly people - police. Scan license plates for outstanding warrants for everything including unpaid traffic tickets and limbs on the lawn for too long - police. Missing persons - police. Evidence collection - police. Prepare and serve search and arrest warrants; apprehend and arrest offenders for crimes committed under federal, state, and local laws and codes. Criminal transport and court appearances for crimes - police.

In the current climate of threats against police, departments have begun sending out two officers at a time. So that takes twice the manpower. We have to ask, are we asking the police to do too much, and is it necessary? Results on some things vary. In some areas where the police are not there making arrests, crime stays the same - no impact. In the current climate where police have reduced patrols in some hot spots, crime has increased. In some areas police have too little to do. In others they are overwhelmed. In small burgs around cities, police departments are underfunded. Nowhere are they over-funded.

Neighborhood watches and patrols have worked in some areas to sharply reduce violence and crime. Mental health care and monitoring can reduce crime from homeless and those with mental conditions. Another way would be to eliminate police involvement in city and county fines, and hand it off to collectors. The county and city really shouldn't be throwing people in jail over debts - it's debtor's prison and punishes them for being poor. There are other solutions if the city and county bother to think of them, like combining police departments instead of financing the police and city budget through fines.

The less coercive contact the police have with the public, the better their image, and the less chance of situations like a bad tail light ending up in death.

Police need to focus on better encounters with the public, and de-escalating when legal encounters do occur, rather than just meeting force with force in a spiral of escalation in which no one wins.

We need to work toward a world in which police encounters are mostly good, not mostly ending in arrests.

Rolling Stone Magazine: Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody's Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World

What police officers do: Police officer job description

Police learning and using de-escallation techniques: Guiding Principles on Use of Force from the Police Executives Research Forum (PERF)