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.