Call out the militia?
USA Today reports:
"Facing tighter budgets, law enforcement agencies across the country are increasingly turning to civilians to respond to some calls that sworn officers and deputies are usually responsible for.
That means people calling 911 to report a traffic accident, a burglarized home or a stolen car may be greeted by a civilian in a polo shirt instead of a gun-toting officer.
"It hasn't been universally adopted throughout the country. But most areas have at least thought about the alternative and are more open to it now because of the economy," said Richard Brady, president of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Matrix Consulting Group that has worked with more than 250 law enforcement agencies.
The idea of using civilians, who require less training and are less expensive than sworn officers, to respond to minor police calls has been around since the late 1980s."
Sounds like a plan to me. In my life, I've reported a burglary, an attempted one, and a theft from a car. In all. I had likely fingerprints. In no case were they able to actually send an officer, or to take the prints (even when, in two of the cases, I offered to bring the material to be fingerprinted down to the central police station). I assume it was simple overload: too many thefts and too few folks to investigate them.
The idea of using civilians to supplement the police force has been around a LOT longer than since 1980. The sheriff's posse and police auxiliaries are a very old (and good) idea.
Posted by: denton at April 1, 2008 08:50 AM
So, if I don't have a gun, but my neighbor does have a gun, if someone's breaking into my home at 3 A.M., should I phone my neighbor or the police?
Posted by: Dave at April 1, 2008 12:46 PM
There are several problems with this approach, but most revolve around safety issues. Officers understand very well that even the most routine call can go bad very, very rapidly, and criminals might well set up civilian police employees, knowing them to be untrained to resist violence and unarmed.
And by the way, very few crimes of any kind, particularly vehicle burglaries, are ever solved by means of fingerprints. Reality is nothing like CSI where one feeds a perfect fingerprint into a computer that queries a massive database and spits out a match within seconds. Such crimes are solved through catching the bad guys with the goods, confessions, and various other kinds of common, competent police work.
Posted by: Mike at April 1, 2008 03:45 PM
As a retired LEO, I'm here to tell you that most LEO's will resent this approach, same as trained journeymen resent scabs.
Then there's the other side of the coin: we tax ourselves to provide police service. When we stop getting that service, perhaps we should stop paying those taxes, not accept "free" service from some wonk in a polo shirt.
Citizens need to stay involved, because these auxilliaries tend to have the worst sorts of "mission creep", and soon wind up performing duty beyond their level of training and experience. I've not only seen it for myself, I've been asked to train them.
If the dollars aren't going far enough, ask to examine the budgets: you will likely find that administration is eating a larger and larger share of the operations budgets, but doing no actual work to contain crime.
Posted by: Rivrdog at April 1, 2008 05:41 PM
and soon wind up performing duty beyond their level of training and experience........
just like a Hell of a lot of cops, but without the attitude.
Posted by: straightarrrow at April 4, 2008 12:38 AM
yet another anti-cop post by straightarrow...don't you have anything original to add?
Posted by: chunk at April 6, 2008 04:57 PM
A little OT: Why is it that reporters use certain phrases religiously? Why is the weird phrase "gun-toting" always used where "armed" would be so much more straightforward?
Posted by: ben at April 7, 2008 11:31 AM