Cops and Robbers

find it interesting to read the varied responses to what our law enforcement should be doing. I refer to the numerous muffler discussions going on.

Just to stir the pot, what do we feel our officers should be spending their time doing?

To start this off our local police are so busy dealing with rapists, thieves and the not that traffic violations are not enforced. So now we are subject to drivers egregiously running red lights, general careless driving, speeding, and noise violations. This makes our town hazardous to drive in.

Where do we draw the line?

I think the cops should be enforcing the law exactly as most of them are…prioritizing. If their staffing (read: budget) to too low, and violent crime is increasing, they should only be bothering with traffic on a convenience basis. Violent crime comes first on the priority list.

If their staffing is adequate and crime in their jurisdiction is low, then they should spend more focus on traffic violations.

Let me be clear. If I roll through a stop sign pethaps I should get a ticket…but not if someone in a high crime zone is getting knifed to death or someone’s kid is getting kidnapped and raped because the police were too busy sitting watching for someone to roll through the stop sign.

Ok, I’ll bite since this I have a feeling this is directed at me.

Look at it this way. Let’s say you have a house, in the yard the grass is getting pretty high and needs to be cut. But the house is also on fire. Would you A. Cut the grass since it needs to be done, or B. not cut the grass and put out the fire since chances are that it’s a more important problem than mowing the lawn?

I’ll jump in too…

If I ran the world, the motor vehicle/transportation department in each state would have their own police force. These employees would have police powers, but would be primarily concerned with motor vehicle issues such as driving violations, accident investigations, and commercial vehicle inspections. That would lets the cops concentrate more on other law enforcement issues.

Luckily I live in a place where we do not have to draw the line as much as other places. It boils down to a hierarchy of importance. Our police force (in spite of my speeding ticket) does prioritize responses to conditions, and that at times cannot be avoided. They cannot be everywhere at every moment, sure we have the red light runners etc. but the line needs to be flexible for the circumstances at hand. Are you willing to pay more taxes to provide the level of enforcement you desire? If you are are others? What is missing in your view?

I have actually had an officer LEAVE my traffic stop midway.

" let this serve as a warning, it would’ve been a ticket , but I gotta go to another call."

They absolutely prioritize as needed. And they will not miss an opportunity to include ALL the relative citations when working a call for one.

I40 in Mew Mexico is patrolled by the state police who have a whole lot of other daily work besides the hiway. But when you get into Arizona, !!! They have separate hiway patrol officers who take their job seriously.
( yes, I’m one who knows the differences… first hand.)

I think the police should use the same “triage” principles that hospitals do.

There is a school of thought that nipping the “quality of life” crimes early tends to prevent the decline of neighborhoods. While that might be true, it seems that, in practice, police departments use that as a pretext to be petty and overbearing. Low-crime neighborhoods with big police departments can be unpleasant to simply travel through for the fact that the police feel that they have to catch somebody violating something, no matter how petty, to justify their salary.

I’ve always wondered about those “save motorists from themselves” seatbelt ticket campaigns. While I’ve only seen them as mildly annoying (not directly affected, as I buckle up), I wonder how I’d feel if I or a family member was the victim of an unsolved crime…while the available manpower was invested in seatbelt violators!

(I suspect those campaigns are largely designed to give “probable cause” for LE to uncover more greivous violations, anyhow.)

Has your local government checked into red light cameras? They pay for themselves around here. At some point, there will be at least one serious accident and the police will have to pay more attention to traffic.

But there’s always someone that has it worse. About 20 years ago I knew a man that lived in a fast-changing area, and it wasn’t getting better. He and his wife had lived there for over 30 years. One night he parked in the driveway and was immediately met with a pistol in his face. He gave the robber his wallet, went inside, and called the police. They asked if anyone was injured, and he said no. The police said that they were so swamped with more serious crimes that they couldn’t help him. Not enough officers to respond to an armed robbery? Big Trouble.

Cops and Firemen spend most of their careers trying to figure out how to work less and get paid more…So far, the firemen are WAY ahead…There are at least 20 or 30 different flavors of cops, all with carefully defined duties and responsibilities. Traffic cops pretty much limit themselves to that specialty, and for the most part ignore everything except DWI and big time speeding. If your house gets burglarized, they WILL come out after a while and fill out a report for you insurance company, but that’s about it…In the United States, with 8 million people in jail or on parole, the cops must have had SOMETHING to do with that… I think the DEA is responsible for over half the people in prison…

I don’t know where you have your experience with police, but it looks like it wasn’t good. In general, most if not all municipalities and county police have traffic detail as well as regular crime intervention when on call. To limit them would keep them from experiencing all related behavior relative to activities like accidents and drug trafficking which are directly related to traffic control. With such a very high percentage of crime related to the automobile use, it’s impractical to separate responsibilities, as well as tie the hands of anyone on traffic detail when another unrelated crime is committed in their presence.

I can’t speak for all states, but local inconsistencies in law enforcement has been dramatically lessened by 100 hr course requirements and the like from the state police. State police are also required to conform to some federal training regs. All this is an attempt to give some consistency to law enforcement throughout the ctry. It ain’t perfect, but at least around here and every where else I’ve visited in the USA, law enforcement in general has been fairly consistent, courteous and well trained with few exceptions.

Let’s face it. Heaven forbid that you should call 911 and expect the intervention of an armed person. It is satisfying to know that there are agencies out there that when called, are obligated to do their best on your behalf, regardless of who you are and whether or not you’ve payed your “bill”. That’s for those who think the government can’t do it in the best interest of everyone and rent a cop is the answer.

In my experience, the public was very grateful every time I successfully intervened on their behave as a police officer; the criminal elements, I could have cared less about. My one complaint in those years was the unfortunate loss of a cat by cruiser contact while chasing a speeder. No one’s “purrrr fect”. The owner had a right to be upset and will now have her own opinion of the police based upon that unfortunate experience. We had to live with it.

There should be a camera mounted in every possible place, in fact everyone should be required to have one implanted in(on) their person.

Where I live (Jacksonville, FL), the murder rate is getting out of hand. Per capita, Jacksonville is now the murder capital of Florida. A group was formed to study the issue and recommend solutions. Increased police presence hasn’t solved the problem. The solution the group proposed includes community programs to keep young people in school and remove barriers to upward mobility. Unfortunately, since this is a conservative town, and most of the murders happen in the poor neighborhoods, the people and the city council have decided not to fund these programs. Meanwhile, more people are running red lights right in front of the police and they don’t get pulled over because the cop in question is usually gabbing on his cell phone instead of paying attention.

The answer to this question isn’t an either/or solution. Lawlessness is the problem, and the police should be able to do both investigate serious crimes and enforce traffic regulations. Traffic enforcement should pay for itself. If you are paying more for traffic enforcement than citations generate in revenue, you are doing it wrong.

Simply separate traffic enforcement from other law enforcement and manage your traffic enforcement officers well enough that they bring in more revenue than they cost. When I call the police for help or protection, I don’t want a traffic cop. I want someone who specializes in something appropriate for the situation.

Traffic stops are a good way to find people with warrants on them. Let’s face it; some of the people who get stopped aren’t the type to avoid risks. They won’t bother checking every light bulb, hanging license plate and they aren’t always going to ask if the car they are borrowing has a current registration. They don’t mind borrowing a stolen car either.

The police know this and are going to continue stopping drivers who spin tires, speed and drive in a crazy manner. If we are all smart, we can insure that the police stop the people that we want them to stop. We’ll all drive properly, keep our registrations current and fix the burned out lights. Mufflers aren’t the big noise on the streets, but we can help stop crime by flying under the radar. Giving up our private fireworks is just another way…

Unfortunately, crime prevention takes a multi modal approach. The BEST deterrent is not punishment level as some simple views would think. It’s the absolute guarantee that an offender expects to get caught. For example,even if the fine was just $5 per mile over for a ticket, if you knew that a computer would guarantee a bill the next day, you’d think long and hard before you jumped on the accelerator. None of us would like that intrusion…but it works. A cop on every corner works/worked in NY.

The long term approach to crime is the obvious that some want to avoid talking about. Improved economy, job opportunity education and dare I say, recreational opportunities. All have shown to play an important role.

Unfortunately, a traffic cop is involved in “hard crime” too. You will get both for the price of one. Impractical to separate the two. Meter maid, now that is different.

“I don’t know where you have your experience with police…”

My friend’s sad experience was in Baltimore city. I live in a surrounding county, and major crime is much less, even much less per capita. My local police are responsive under all circumstances, except accidents where there is no personal injury. Oh, and they rarely stop highway speeders, even those going 20 MPH+ over the speed limit. Most of they drive way over the limit on the highways, too. I can see why most local drivers go as fast as they do: no leading by example.

One more thing: Baltimore city now uses street cameras in high crime areas to see if and when people gather and for how long. They are on light poles and use wide angle lenses to see the whole street. If people hang out too long, there is a high probability that someone is selling drugs, and the police will make a visit.

Dagosa, you have a refreshing attitude…I suspect you run into conflict in the squad room…Few police officers think and feel as you do…

The ones I worked with did. Your experience must be different than mine. Our opinions are often shaped by a limited experience in a particular situation that may not be a true indicator of law enforcement in general.

dagosa, please don’t misconstrue what I wrote. I was very careful not to suggest traffic cops don’t deal with “hard crime” or “real crime.” I was being very careful not to trivialize the job of traffic enforcement. Anytime you make someone’s responsibilities too broad, they can’t do as good a job. Specialization is key in any field.

If the police were no longer routinely armed, how many would resign from the force overnight? Do we respect our police officers or do we respect that 9mm on their hip? Police department or fire department, is it more than just an equipment choice??