Monday, October 22, 2012

The Buck Stops the Police Department.

Apparently ALL the bucks stop there.

Since this City's founding our police department has demonstrated a penchant for uncontrolled growth, growing at a rate much faster than the population. And it isn't just head count. The City has announced a budget calling for four percent raises and given that a vast majority of City employees are in the police department this is pretty much a police raise. In these economic times that is quite a salary boost as any of those Dunwoodians who've aged in place could tell you. Their Social Security payment will increase at substantially less than half the police raise--much more in line with inflation.

We're subjected to many excuses for this out of line and out of control cost. First is that we do not have enough officers to respond to 911 calls in a prompt and efficient fashion. Yet, we have more than enough officers to run I-285 Toll Trolls and are never in want when bikers or runners need a police escort. We even roll Dunwoody's finest when it's pear-pickin' time down to the Farmhouse.

Then we're told we need to up the pay to prevent poaching by the nearby newly formed cities. A bit hypocritical since that's how we built this burgeoning police force.

And it isn't like we're getting what we're paying for. The Dunwoody Daycare fuster cluck is not a singularity. We have an outstanding double homicide that has seen no progress, a force noted for making a beeline to the scene of a bank robbery rather than establishing a perimeter, neglecting to check out 911 calls and letting suspects escape because "going around back" just sounds too "Mayberry". And there's the affection for toys for the boys, noted by colleagues who've reported the chief getting all starry eyed over the latest gizmos at conventions. Do we REALLY need an ATV?

What we really need is a council that is more than a bunch of pollyanish besmitten police aficionados that rubberstamp whatever comes out of the department. We need hard questions and solid answers. Assuming community safety is a top priority are speed patrols on I-285 REALLY the best use of our resources? Is it cost effective to used certified LEOs as glorified mall cops or would our tax dollars be better spent hiring a security firm? What other jobs can be de-skilled to control costs? Should all the special interest groups (run, bike, walk, pick fruit) hire their own escorts and traffic cops? Would it not be very cost effective to transparently publish key data (date/time location of citations, speed sign data) and get more eyes, public eyes, on these data? You know, "data driven" and all that. Do we have to unquestioningly accept anything the department says because "they're the professionals"? Isn't that exactly what has brought government schools to the sorry state they are in?

But this is politics and this simply is not going to happen. It is much more likely that we'll see council members doing PR ride-a-longs followed by public sing-a-longs. And we will see the police force grow. And Grow. And GROW.

Perhaps we're left with the obvious alternative: contacting those in charge of forming Brookhaven and offer them a slightly used police chief with startup experience and a track record of growing a force. Quickly.