Monday, December 17, 2018

Powerless Portland Police?

Apparently, the mayor of Portland, OR plans to introduce to city council next week a proposal to disarm the local police department. Not the whole force, mind you, but those responding to non-emergency calls. To pay for this new program, the city cut their mounted patrol. The police union is saying something different.
Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner says the PS3s will not respond to calls for service without a sworn officer, but they may provide support by manning the front desks at precincts or waiting for tow trucks at car accidents. That's a much smaller, less public role than what Portland mayors have pledged—and some observers say keeping the officers off the streets is a bait-and-switch.
As a matter of public policy, this proposal might actually have merit. Sending unarmed officers on emergency calls is not smart, but the lower priority calls? I am open to hearing why every officer on every call must be armed to a level that they could take on a banana republic, but it's going to have to be a really good reason. Law enforcement, like many other government sponsored entities, suffers from mission creep. Dialing back what they respond to might be a solution, but certainly reducing the number of situations in which the officer arrives for armed conflict might impact how law enforcement is perceived in their communities.

It was just a TV show and Mayberry is hardly what America looks like today, but Sheriff Taylor didn't need a weapon to enforce the law in his town. We should be asking ourselves what we can do to make our communities safe without subjecting ourselves to a police state (see what I did there?). It's something to think about...