Home Main Category Opinion Re-Thinking Policing: Should Officers Handle Priority Calls Only?

Re-Thinking Policing: Should Officers Handle Priority Calls Only?

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NOTE: We like to “what if?” from time to time around News24/680, putting things out there for people smarter than us to weigh in on and, when things go right, perhaps come up with a better way of doing things. We’re hopeful police officers and their commanders will contribute their thoughts, experiences here – Editor.

The nation’s police forces have taken a hard hit over the last few years, losing seasoned officers and potential recruits as a result.

Public sentiment and politics have also re-shaped the current environment, with police forces adapting on their own volition or forced to.

But no matter what you think of the profession the cold, hard truth is that if you live in America it is likely that you are going to require some kind of police assistance sometime in your future. We just wonder what that response should look like.

Obviously, we’re not in law enforcement, never saw it as a potential career path, but we’ve been around law enforcement agencies for most of our journalistic careers – and we’ve seen a few things. We can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s time to look for an adjustment in personnel and an effective “force multiplier” for the department of the future.

One thing we’ve learned is that people – civilians – call the police to solve all manner of problems – many of them maddeningly trivial. Officers handle all of the calls their radios feed them in the course of a shift and they know how to prioritize, but we wonder if perhaps it wasn’t time to keep trained officers on the street handling serious calls only. Is it time for unsworn cadets or civilian mediators with communications links to police to deal with mis-parked cars, treed cats, and the hundred or so other situations that police deal with in the course of a day?

The idea, of course, would be to keep highly-trained officers in circulation to deal with person-on-person crimes, critical medical emergencies, and high-profile property crimes. Lower priority incidents would be forwarded to other ranks/mediators authorized by their towns and cities to assess and close common complaints about noise, parking, domestic disputes.

Would such a restructuring work? Could it work? Do you see any evident drawbacks or issues? Feel free to sound off, we’re interested.


  1. What is the context, not the liberal media fantasy. What recent facts are at hand?

    1. Crime is exploding in major urban cities. For example, year over year, Oaklands murder rate has increased by over 100%. Some areas have seen an over 300% increase. Antifa, BLM, & de-policing don’t seem to be helpful.
    2. San Francisco’s decriminalized “petty crime” of items under $900 has led to exponential crime growth. The results? Multiple local drug stores have closed, making critical prescriptions tougher to acquire for the underprivileged.Residents typically don’t report petty crime & auto vandalism.
    3. Violent crime has spilled over into Walnut Creek, Lamorinda, etc. The Creek had at least 4 shootings last year. Call me old fashioned, I recall The Creek when a decade went by with no notable crime.
    4. Most of the notable police encounters happen when criminals resist police arrest, often on drugs, and its then amplified by our media.
    5. Take the sad case of the mentally unstable Walnut Creek young man running at officers with a 5′ long steel pry bar. Do you want to send a social worker there?
    6. Chicago has dozens of shootings every weekend which the media doesn’t cover. Portland and Seattle are bedlam because of a lack of law and order.
    7. Mexican drug cartels have dumped massive amounts of hard drugs into our communities, one byproduct being increased homelessness. And the Left supports an Open Border.

    While there might be a few cases where nuance is needed, it seems we need a return to past enforcement.

    • So, political inclinations and aspersions aside, what do you think about the idea of dedicating the ranks of sworn officers to handling high priority incidents while a cadet, explorer or city designated representative deals with the neighbor’s mis-parked car?

      • I’m fine with that, but right now we appear to have the opposite problem – exploding lawlessness. I believe we’ve again proven the ‘broken window’ axiom of smaller crimes leading to wider, more deadly crimes, including hate crimes against Asian Americans and police officers.

        Will these cadets carry tazers?

        • There we go. We’re thinking cadets, probationary officers would be armed with less-lethal equipage to be used as a last resort with their primary mission to assess, handle it if they can to free up officers for other duties, then fall back and dial up officers if things go bad. We would just rather see first-line officers remain on a beat/assigned area instead of dealing with squabbles over fence lines or misplaced garbage cans.

          • My limited viewpoints is that we’re currently in uncharted waters, but rapidly declining. On top of this, lawless cities like Portland, Oakland, and Los Angeles are defending police services. (Don’t forget, Marxists want this.)

            I have first-hand experience the past 3 months of a police officer choosing not to be involved in a domestic squabble in the Tri Valley when asked to intercede. Would this have happened 2 years ago? The quality of life has dramatically diminished in San Francisco. A colleague reports Narcam injections save 20 lives a month just on the streets of *one* block around the San Francisco Main Library.

            Portland is controlled by roughly 100 Hooligans according to investigative journalist Andy Ng with rarely an arrest and indictment. Baltimore inner harbor is no longer safe. Jewish Americans are also singled out, and Antifa runs unchecked.

    • Mark, really had hit the nail on the head!
      I agree with him fully! It may be very hard for some to swallow but he said is the Stone Cold Truth. A lot of people still don’t want to wake up to it.
      OK, now for my answer to question, Yes, it’s a 911 call is about a homeless person or something like that police should not be sent but some other special trained help group.
      But again like Mark said, San Francisco doesn’t send the police out for anything anymore and they still have issues.
      We had friends that were visiting the city and thieves so demolished their car interior while trying to steal it… tore the dashboard totally apart- that they could not start it to drive it home. Police would not come out but told the couple they had to take a taxi to the station House where they would accept the report. Car had to be towed back to Lamorinda,… Those friends said they will never visit Oakland or San Francisco again!

      • Except the homeless guy who knocked down a San Francisco officer a couple of weeks ago. They often have mental or drug issues and turn violent. Here in WC, when a dispatcher tells me to take care of a homeless person myself, I tell them it’s the LA County Sheriff way and send the ambulance.

  2. Let the police be police officers. Period. Way too much is in the hands of the police these days, and thankfully they’re finally making more money. ALL police officers should carry guns. Why? Because you never know if the other guy/gal is carrying one. Progressives (centrist independent myself) are blaming the police, wanting to defund the police, etc. and it’s pathetic. Every shooting has the same common denominator. Refusing to cooperate with the police. If it’s happening to men of certain races, it’s because men of certain races commit a higher percentage of crimes, and are less likely to cooperate with the police. The truth hurts.

    You can’t micromanage the police. You don’t want any contact with the cops? Don’t commit a crime, and respect traffic laws. It really is that simple.

    Wanting a cadet or someone to handle minor issues? To me it makes more sense for the general public to quit calling the police over every little thing. Too many idiots think 911 is like 411 back in the day. I wish dispatchers could tell these idiots this is BS and hang up on them, but that’s not the way it works.

    I’m also well aware the media and law enforcement has always had an adversarial relationship. Perhaps it’s time for mutual respect between the two, and letting the other profession do their jobs. It works both ways.

    • Just a quick reminder that if we “let the police be police” George Floyd would be dead and no one would be any the wiser.

      • If George Floyd would’ve cooperated with the police, he’d still be alive. There are bad apples in every profession, but cooperating with the police is advisable.

        • Three bad apples were on that man’s back and legs, one of them was applying critical pressure to his carotid and another one was keeping rightfully concerned citizens – and a medic – away from the scene. Apparently there’s a very fine line between cooperation, death throes and murder.

          • Chokeholds are (were) allowed in law enforcement. It’s debatable whether they should ever have been allowed, but how would you keep a uncooperative suspect who is 6 ft. 7 in. down when he’s under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and refusing to cooperate? A man who is that large can overtake anyone. Smaller men and women have a disadvantage, and something has to be done to stay in control. Like suspects cooperating with with police, and not putting themselves in a position where they end up dead.

          • Totally get it. We’ve rarely seen a “pretty” arrest and we’ve seen – and been forced to participate in – thousands. Looking for ways to mitigate potentially violent encounters and make better use of an officer’s time on the beat.

    • I agree clapping back at cops is unproductive, even in the rare instance they’re wrong, but the common denominator is the gun. Without the gun, no one dies by the gun. That simple. Thinking back, I am trying to reckon all those times in my life when I felt; “you know, that could have gone so much better for me if I’d only had my gun….”. A ‘good guy with a gun’ was killed by a cop last weekend in Colorado while picking up the perpetrators gun, when the cop rolled up and thought the good guy was the active shooter. Tragic.

      Quit hanging onto a 250 year old document granting a ‘right’ with zero context to society today. There are plenty of other things we’ve gotten rid of or amended over the decades because it’s sensible and right for society as a whole, like i dunno, slavery or every persons right to vote. The only difference here is we think the second amendment permeates time and space.

      I’d also note the Supreme Court hears cases all the time on things unfathomable to the ‘founders’ in the 1770’s as the Court contextualize the Constitution into modern society. This is no different.

      • Context. There are approximately 15,000 murders a year in our country, most probably in urban areas. What, 75% or more drug or gang related. So what should police carry into war zones – a Bible, the Conmunist Manifesto, or Greatful Dead lyrics?

        The mentally unstable young man who ran at officers in Walnut Creek last year with a 5′ long steel pry bar was shot by several officers, including two women. If we had police departments with strapping ex-Marines from another Era, is it possible they’d disarm him, maybe dislocated a shoulder or break an arm, but he’d be alive?

        FWIW, controversial writer Ann Coulter has linked to FBI statistics showing lower fatality rates when police units include black men, and higher mortality rates when the units include women.

        • In the Miles Hall incident, two of the female officers had degrees in psychology and non-lethal weapons were used prior to the shooting.

          • Yes that was a very sad situation with the mans own relatives and neighbors calling for police – who came. Very sad day.

          • Not a good idea to have a large deadly metal pry bar laying around. And now the city (citizens) pay out $4 Million.

      • “…even in the rare instance they’re wrong.”
        Anyone even reasonably up on current affairs can cite instances where police, who are human as the rest of us, have been critically, fatally wrong. Saying up front that most do a difficult job well and without incident, officers have raided the wrong homes and apartments, mistakenly killed homeowners, their own partners, other officers, embezzled police organization funds, stolen from evidence lockers, beaten helpless prisoners, and shot unarmed people multiple times. To say we should back off and “let police be police” is wrong-headed and ludicrous. At this point they have the power of life and death over those they are sworn to protect and they should be scrutinized – fairly and without bias – by independent bodies with no ties to their departments. If I wanted to live in a country of police excesses I’d move to the Philippines.

  3. This would probably work on some level as it would offer relief from people who call the police for the tiniest thing.

  4. Well, I was a reserve deputy sheriff for fifteen years, nine years with Los Angeles County and six years here in the Bay Area. I worked several years in high density challenged communities, a couple of years on The Sunset Strip and a few years dealing with the STARS in a well known beach community, I have seen it all.

    During my career I can’t think of the time I worked with a racist, some members got disillusioned with the challenged communities and those communities also presented greater risks to those in law enforcement , in general. Life or death decisions have to be made in split seconds, unfortunately not all of those decisions are perfect.

    What the public needs to know is that it is now a requirement for all law enforcement officers in California to attend a number of hours on how to deal with the mentally challenged. So, the media and politicians are completely wrong when they are calling for mental health professionals to responded to potentially hazardous calls, just wait till one gets killed.

    Your proposal for “cadets” or “volunteers” to respond to low level calls is not feasible, they will not have received enough training. Of course reserve officers receive several different levels of training and their responsibilities are adjusted accordingly, and they are for the most part “volunteering”.

    What else would you like to know?


    • The general erosion of services is likely to continue before it is changed. It would be wise to consider new ways of doing things because not every report can be made online. I know many people who have stopped calling the police entirely.

      • Yes. Many people are told to file their report online and many just don’t bother. The police like this because it makes the crime rate look lower. The police do many jobs and many do them well but we would be smart to think about ways to better utilize police services, somethig I believe the author was trying to brainstorm.

  5. This assumes there aren’t enough police – or won’t be – to handle priority calls in the future. They don’t seem to have any problem turning out for incidents, as you can judge by photographs on this site. I would agree that low priority calls are just that, low priority, and that it can take an exorbitant amount of time for an officer to respond. But if police here say that’s not a problem I guess they’d know.

  6. Officers I talk with say they have lost colleagues to retirement and a general unwillingness to remain in the profession. It wouldn’t hurt to consider some type of change to help them keep pace with public need. The times they are a changing.

    • Police officers are retiring and leaving the profession thanks to the defund the police progressives who are “dehumanizing” the police. Crime is rising and we’re all paying for it thanks to the despicable far-left. Would you want someone breathing down your neck or do you want to be left alone to do your job?

  7. People call the police when they feel cut off in the drive thru lane at Burger King so yeh, I’d like to see a reexamination of how poilce respond and deal with these types of calls.

      • I have to say I already feel like we’re on our own. I know some police and like them but if we’re going to move forward expecting the police to protect and serve then I believe adjustments will have to be made. If you’re saying police officers won’t become police officers without protection from prosecution for possible future violations then I would say we’re better off not having those people policing us.

        • Daniel,

          Police will make mistakes in some cases, the decisions have in fractions of seconds, I almost shot a homeless woman, she pointed a BB gun at me, at night. Hope you know how to take care of yourself. 108RS

  8. In reply to Mark Jones Jun 30, 2021 at 4:46 pm
    “Not a good idea to have a large deadly metal pry bar laying around. And now the city (citizens) pay out $4 Million.”

    You mean the inoffensive “garden tool” the pry bar became after the lawyers got their mitts on the story?

      • Hahaha!! Yea just a little legal wordsmithing. I saw that too. It’s a cheater bar. I used one to move stone.

          • Liberal baiting aside (boring and repetitive) the topic is worthy of discussion and has yielded a few gems. I would request that political trolls be excised so that commenters can stay on topic. A couple of points: Someone mentioned that there seem to be plenty of police on hand on the occasions when a heavy police presence is needed and I believe that is the result of a working understanding between departments that calls for officers to support officers in neighboring areas. People see 5 or 6 or more police cars and think we must have enough police but often they are coming from two or more jurisdictions. There is also a lot of sharing of specialized police services like dogs and electronics and officers with special training. This mutual suppoort may be easier when police patrolling local cities are contracted sheriff’s deputies but independent agencies participate too. I would imagine that ranking officers know what is needed to keep their streets patrolled and I have heard firsthand that recruitments are down and resignations up. It is a challenging profession that has become even more challenging in recent years. I believe we have a vested interest in fielding a professional team of officers to cover our respective home towns and to come when they are needed. I also believe that these departments NEED oversight and scrutiny by the press (usually a good start) but by independent watchdog groups when needed.

          • These “independent” watchdog groups always have a political and social agenda. Police Departments are overseen by a chief who is hired by an elected mayor and city council, the citizens could replace the entire group by vote. Sheriff’s are directly elected by the people. There is no need for other involvement. 108RS

          • Claims of “baiting” aside, how else do we logically explain the dramatic rise in crime?

            – California decriminalized “minor” crimes.
            – certain factions supported Antifa & BLM riots & protests, with dozens of deaths, tens of Millions in costs, and few arrests.
            – Seattle & Portland are allegedly lawless & hopeless; repeat, violent felons are repeatedly released in Portland.
            – lockdown payback?

  9. For Jeff (I guess the comment strings run out eventually around here):
    Your point about independent watchdog groups is well taken as I have seen that happen in some areas where they go off the rails bigtime. But I do think independent review of high profile incidents like shootings and crimes allegedly committed by officers do require outside investigation by REPUTABLE law enforcement agencies — e.g. FBI? Appropriate state agency? In order to take the Fox guarding the Hen House stank off of some cases which have also gone badly.

    • Sure, shootings and other incidents should be investigated by someone other than the agency in question. How about the DA’s? They are accountable through election as well. Police oversight boards, comprised of individuals with no experience and plenty of opinions are worthless. 108RS

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