Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Boogie Man is Coming, The Boogie Man is Coming, or More to the Point

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

After reading the next sentence and doing what it tells you to do, come back, and sit down, and read the rest of this post.

Take a deep breath, hold it, jump up, run around the room in a panic like state, looking over your shoulders like the boogie man is chasing you; when you run out of breath, and are blue in the face, sit down.

Welcome back!

This should make you see red.

I can’t write this with a straight face. So take it as parody.

I’m going to show you a top-secret picture in a moment, don’t tell anybody, especially the past Lt. Governor.

On June 15, 2010, I bought the City of Albuquerque’s Chief Administrative Officer David Campbell dinner. OK, it was a slice of Dion’s pizza at Isotopes Park.

I was with my old police partner and fellow former Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association president Rocky Nogales.

Campbell wanted to talk to us about the Albuquerque Police Department's take home car policy, which assigns every officer a car to drive to and from work, wherever they live, and while going about personal business within city limits.

It’s a 28-year old policy. It was developed to provide better coverage to the citizenry by having off duty officers in marked and unmarked (as if you couldn’t tell it was the cops) units with their radios on being perceived to be patrolling the streets.

Be honest, you lift your foot from the gas every time you see one of those police cars. It’s OK, so do I.

The take home cars also save a boatload of money on maintenance.

Officers are recruited on the promise of benefits, including a take home car.

Our police stations don’t have to provide locker rooms and shower facilities. It’s cost effective all over the place.

Campbell said there had been a flurry of speculation when the idea of restricting officers who live out of the city would have to park their cars.

He didn’t think it was going to go anywhere and they were going to study it to death, but he recognized that it wasn’t his call to make. There was another player who was exercising some degree of authority.

This idea has come and gone two or three times before in the past 15 years or so.

The outcome is always the same. The City takes the cars away, the union files suit, there is a big brouhaha, and the media has a field day. The city seems to find the flaw in their logic and after about three or four months the revenue savings miraculously disappears and the officers are quietly allowed to drive their cars home again.

Now the city has taken the cars from officers who live more than 11 miles from the Big-I, and outside the city limits.

The union sued and in their complaint filed with the court they attached the names, rank, and address of the 180 affected officers. They are the injured parties and need to be identified.

So What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Isotopes lost 11-8 to Omaha.

Oh no, that wasn't the important stuff.

The fly in the ointment is 28-years old. It is a poison pill written into the plan. The chief of police has total discretion in deciding to continue to have or not have the take home car policy, but except for disciplinary reasons, the only thing he may do is kill the program.

It was designed that way to prevent, as union leadership of the day used to say, some penny pinching, penciled necked geeks, from getting stupid with a theory of monetary savings over safety.

I know, because, though I was not an original author, I revisited and tweaked the language a few times at the negotiating table and was sworn in as an expert witness in District Court, during the first attempt by the city to restrict the program. I was not really an expert, just an old guy with a good corporate memory.

Well, it’s happened again. Director for Public Safety Darren White, in this file photo, suited up and went on television last night saying the names on the attachment put the officers at risk if the list fell into the ”wrong hands.”

Be afraid! White summoned his best I’m afraid, voice to try to scare everybody within earshot.

In his best post 911 speech he spewed his rhetoric. The city got the judge to seal the list of attached names and addresses.

White doesn’t study history; he just makes it up as he goes along.

There were cities around the country, about the time he came to Albuquerque that required all city employees to live inside their jurisdictions, have their address and telephone numbers listed so the community could deal with them.

But the best history is to go all the way back to the beginning of modern policing concepts as introduced by Sir Robert Peel when establishing the Metropolitan Police Force.

Peel had a number of principles for the selection, hiring and maintaining officers' services: several had to do with officers being part of their community and to be well known. It’s basic and cops like White continually forget it and cower in fear from the public they are sworn to serve.

Peel also required his "Peelers," or "Bobbies," nicknames named after him, to wear their uniforms whenever they were in public, on duty or not. Peel reasoned that it would make it impossible for officers to take a bribe if all could see them and know whom they were.

Wouldn’t going back to a fundamental policing concept work just as well?

One Hundred sixty-one officers were killed on duty last year nation wide and though there was an increase in ambush attacks on officers I challenge White to find any of them to have occurred at the officer’s residence.

White is trying to divert attention to his silliness of trying to decrease the publics’ safety through his cheap theatrics.

Didn't White just apologize to the City Council about misstating the sum, $600,000 when he accused the Council of reducing the budget, making it the reason for having to take away the cars?

Enough parody.

Now on to that secret picture and maybe a better deterrent to Whites boogie man coming to protect your local neighborhood officers and families.

Don’t you think just about everybody knows a couple of officers might live here?

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