Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Police Department Wears Curly Wool Coats

Is there an actual breakthrough in the way citizens sculpt the PD we want? Could it be? False lead, or real thing?

The Oakland Tribune reported that a survey of city residents has been commissioned to find out what THEY would like their police department to do. The consultant hired, Scott Bryant said:

"What's important about our approach is we're developing a community-based strategic plan," Bryant said. "It's not just an internal strategic plan for the Police Department."

Read the whole article here.

Maybe some rational thinking is finally getting through in Oakland, but it will be important to watch closely for police sabotage. While I am trying to see the glass half full, I wasn’t born yesterday, (or the day before that, either.) Cops are notorious for the ability to look cooperative on the outside, while being the biggest enemy of change on the inside. Wolf in the sheep flock? The original Trojan horse? Don’t put it past them. It is just more Cop Culture.

Two things in the article jumped out at me:

“…police have been in contact with San Jose State to survey city residents. Come January the department will have a draft plan of what areas are of highest priority to the community and then will work on how the police can work to meet those demands, said Scott Bryant, a Virginia-based consultant working with (Chief) Batts.

(Emphasis is mine)


“City staffers also have floated the idea of going to voters next spring to ask for tax increases, including a possible new public safety parcel tax to help Oakland maintain police and fire staffing levels.”

(Again, emphasis is mine)

Question: How do you destroy a good idea to reform your local police department?

Answer: Have the cops introduce it to the citizens and then charge them a special tax to enact it.

Can we guess the ending to this story? Apathy is the biggest setback to enacting a citizen review board, and cops rely on that along with the negative financial incentive as a buzz-kill. Leave things as they are for free, or pay what we can’t afford for improvement. While I applaud the effort, the citizens are still playing Three Card Monte on the street corner with cops and with the same success rate. Police need to be taken completely out of this loop. Citizens doin’ it for themselves is the only way to get what we need and pay for.

Hey, at least the subject is on the table in Oakland.

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