One of the patterns I am sure we all have observed is how our officers are used by our local, state, and federal governments to enact political agendas or as a target of political agendas.
I would like to bring up another solution I have mentioned in the past which could separate the dependencies that keep our law enforcement and other civil services hostage and beholden to our politicians.
Before jumping to conclusions
Before I continue I want to say that I am in no way suggesting we defund, change, or punish the civil services I mention. Quite the contrary. Instead, I want to draw attention to the fact that our teachers, officers, firefighters, and medics are human. In a strictly professional/employment sense, that means they are subject to many of the same pressures we feel in our own professional lives. We all mostly have a supervisor or a boss who tells us what to do and how to do it. There are rules and guidelines that dictate the course of our days and the activities we must complete (or work towards completing)
Why does that matter?
Well, it matters because the reason we subject ourselves to this routine and hierarchy, primarily, for a paycheck. Period. I’m not discounting folks out there with a real passion for what they do for a living but primarily, however, if none of us had mortgages, car payments, etc., and had no reason to work, we most likely would be doing other things with our time. That being said, reality says we must keep working in order to maintain our lives and keep a roof over our heads and maintain a standard of living.
Our civil servants and educators are no different, and by that I mean, they must please their supervisors and admins who demand they perform.
Why is this important?
Consider the narratives regarding certain professionals we hear on an almost daily basis. Whether is BLM, Democrats, Republicans, Antifa, or any of the literal hundreds of political groups operating today, once in a position of power and control, the tools they tend to employ find their homes, largely, within the institutions we depend on every day. Taking our everyday services and either politicizing them or making the target of their narrative to disrupt and create animosity between that particular group and the general public. To be clear, I am saying that these political groups intentionally create situations and narratives in order to justify their existence which only perpetuates the narrative and abuses we consistently have in our headlines and news. It is about maintaining relevance.
Using police as an example, this manifests itself in things like quotas. IE, cities, and municipalities requiring officers to issue so many tickets of “X” type as those governing bodies, have decided that a certain amount of the total collections from fines and forfeitures be used to fund the departments themselves or to fund functions within the governing bodies. In Wisconsin Rapids alone, during 2020, amounted to $250k in fines and penalties issued for crimes and misdemeanors of a non-civil nature. Those monies are allocated into their general funds and we the taxpayers have no way of telling what dollars were used for what. This is all part of your typical budgetary process present in most communities which are essentially summed up in the phrase “use it or lose it”.
The problem I see is these departments being told: “more with less” as salaries and pensions become bigger and bigger on top of the average rise in the cost of operations, which then triggers a response which is essentially one person attempting to find a clever way to accomplish the goals set by their supervisory bodies. This mindset and mode of operation lead to police and other city departments having to become creative in how they go about collecting the funds it uses for operations, payroll, and purchases.
Some things we see are schemes like shortening yellow lights, enforcing loosely written municipal codes, removing stoplights, etc. Offenses and instances which are not criminal or even offenses. IE, License Plates not being correctly placed per the observing officer’s opinion or belief, not waiting long enough at a stop, seat belt violations, and others. In this, witters opinion, these types of “violations” act more as gateway charges which then allow officers to then look for other, greater offenses which carry a higher fine or penalty. Which then creates the plausible narrative that the police are out to get you. We have all heard the adage “if a cop wants to pull you over, they can find a reason” and the narrative that results convinces people, similar to an urban legend, that police really are out to get them.
The narratives spread like cancer
With the table set as mentioned above, certain groups have zeroed in on a claim that somehow officers are to blame, and in this logic, I completely disagree. As referenced above, these civil servants and educators must do as prescribed per their employment agreements in order to clear a paycheck. The individuals responsible for these laws are also the ones pushing these narratives. The politicians are addicted to the budget amounts and as a matter of course, have no incentive to change the laws or their standard operating procedures and methods.
If you couple the above-mentioned mode of budgeting in government and the lack of good and meaningful policy, these politicians and civil leaders, with no desire to step down or admit to policy mistakes, then switch and push the blame off onto those same city and public employees who are following their direction as means of avoiding accountability. In many cases, refusing to acknowledge just how forging the public can be by owning up to those policy mistakes and failures in action and the general public subscribes to the narratives for several reasons, in my opinion, such as…
- Plausible collective experiences
- A feeling that the ones responsible are too big or too high up to be held accountable but still want accountability
- periodic and large mistakes made by professional in those sections suck as officer misconduct and shooting
I am sure that we could write a steven king sized book about all the different hype people’s logic is subjectively influenced by.
With the added pressure of quotas, essentially the local and state governments are pushing their jobs off onto the officers and most of the liability as well. Forcing officers to act as both enforcement, litigator, and judge when it is clearly outside of the scope of their mandate.
What I mean
Simply put, these local, state and federal leaders are the ones who write the policy and SOGs/SOPs this personnel is tasked with performing. The deleted officials who spend their terms enacting things only to vilify the effects of such policy and this is the center and focus of my entire point.
Think about things from your own perspective. We all have had to do things in our personal and professional lives in order to get a task done or navigate a situation. Understanding that the folks in the “targeted” occupations and positions, we are effectively allowing the source of the problem to blame and point the finger at everyone but themselves.
So why is the narrative blaming those who have no control over the expectations and responsibilities of their jobs? Put that into a context which reflects your own personal life. Do you think you would be employed long if you refused or questioned what your bosses and superiors dictate or set as policy? I think not and these individuals, such as our officers, are no different. In effect pushing off liability on to them while these civic leaders galavant around collecting paychecks while simultaneously setting up, those under them, to fail or at a minimum become targets of the public.
Now before you say that’s not true, let’s just review a simple general truth and axiom I touched on before, “if an officer wants to pull you over he will find a reason”.
The above statement is 100% true but I also feel it is intellectually dishonest in that it paints officers in a light that somehow they either have a choice or essentially wake up every day thinking “how am I going to get em’ today?”. Certainly, people are welcome to subscribe to that level of paranoia and cynicism, but that type of cynicism is just not for me and is completely unproductive. Additionally, think about things from the officer’s or teachers’ position, given a choice between people with an unjust level of contempt for the officers and teacher OR the disdain of the people who sign their paychecks. What choice do officers really have in terms of their loyalty? Bosses, who play them but also make them or the general public who has been whipped up into an anti (insert civil segment) sentiment? In that situation, what do you think you would choose? Sooner or later a person will get fed up and simply turn their backs which then leads to lower professionalism and less empathy between every person involved.
All for a narrative created by the very same people who most likely created the terrible situation, to begin with. Making jokes and pariahs of everyone but themselves as we then look to them to then solve the same problems they created or ignored.
Do we blame sheep for the wool the Sheppard forces them to produce or do we hold the Sheppard accountable? In this writer’s opinion, same as not blaming people for doing what they have to do, we also cannot blame the folks for both being human and between a rock/hard place. As if they do not have their own well-being, rents, bills, to worry about.
The solution is simple once you identify the cause and circumstances which created the problem and that problem is public officials holding budget hostage and while my article leading up to this is long, the solution is short and simple, worth your consideration.
We, the taxpayers take the responsibility of the cities and municipalities responsibility to create and manage the budgets for those institutions (police, fire, ems, schools) and we establish commissions comprised of both professionals from those institutions and civilian taxpayers who then work with each other instead of allowing the city departments and public services to act as a filter for those funds and pay those tax collections directly to the agencies themselves. It will require more public interfacing but I believe our teachers and officers to be intelligent enough to balance a checkbook. I also think that they are good and honest people for the most part and can be trusted to tell the public what they need to operate without having to resort to trickery, political activism, union participation, and other activities which long term, have a very negative effect on both operations but also the general public’s opinion.
And while oversimplified, I think the direction we need to go is to remove the access, privilege, and temptation from people in office who we know have no intention of bringing any meaningful change to correct the negative situations and conditions which enable the narrative these public officials use in order to justify the positions and entitlement to governance.
What do you think? Do you have anything to add? Sign in or go to the Facebook group and comment on the article. Let’s get a dialog going and start moving towards solutions because we ALL deserve better.
Thanks for reading!