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Thread: Uvalde intensifies doubts over whether tiny police agencies make sense - Wash Post

  1. #1
    Site Supporter Kanye Wyoming's Avatar
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    Uvalde intensifies doubts over whether tiny police agencies make sense - Wash Post

    Behind paywall but this “gift” link should work for everyone. https://wapo.st/3OmVnfK A few excerpts:


    The criticism heaped on a six-member school police force in Uvalde, Tex., after its response to a mass shooter this spring has drawn attention to a ubiquitous American institution: the tiny police department.

    While supporters of such agencies say they provide a personal touch that bigger police departments can’t match, critics say they often lack the training, expertise and accountability expected in today’s world of heavily armed criminals and heightened scrutiny of officers.
    . . . .

    As the nation wrestles with what policing should look like in the 21st century, many question whether these smallest of police departments — which function in nearly every state, employ more than 20,000 officers nationwide and provide the first line of defense for millions of Americans — can adequately carry out their mission. Officials in some states have pushed to consolidate the smallest departments into larger, neighboring agencies, often triggering opposition.
    One reason police reform is hard? So many small departments.

    “The only reason they exist is because of politics, and they provide jobs for some individuals,” said Charles A. McClelland Jr., who led the Houston Police Department from 2010 to 2016. “Uvalde is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the disjointed law enforcement jurisdictions we have in this country. Even though it happened in Texas, it can happen anywhere.”
    . . . .

    “These agencies literally define community-oriented policing,” said Sean Marschke, who is chief of the 15-officer Sturtevant Police Department in Wisconsin and represents agencies with 15 or fewer officers on the board of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

    “Many of these chiefs are the Little League coach. They also serve on the volunteer fire department. … So there’s this dedication to service and really knowing the people that you’re serving in those communities by first name.”
    It’s difficult or impossible, however, for these departments to match the resources of bigger ones — resources that go into things like training, communications systems, body cameras and professional standards units.

    McClelland said officers in many of Texas’s smallest agencies receive only the state minimum of 40 hours of ongoing training every two years, while those at bigger agencies often far exceed that. “The state requirements are very minimal, and it’s not adequate,” he said.
    Thoughts?

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    Site Supporter RoyGBiv's Avatar
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    I'm certain George Soros would support a National Police Force. We could outfit them all with brown and black shirts
    Godwin too soon?

    Sarcasm aside, it's good to discuss and inform of pros and cons, but the choices should be made locally. I don't want city cops and city priorities applied to my security living in the country, nor vice versa.
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    Is that thunder? No, it’s just Fort Hood.
    McClelland sounds like a typical big city political chief. I am inclined to ignore him.
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    Site Supporter JHC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kanye Wyoming View Post
    Behind paywall but this “gift” link should work for everyone. https://wapo.st/3OmVnfK A few excerpts:




    Thoughts?
    I think its a valid argument. Small towns aren't Mayberry anymore. Maybe the solution is much higher state mandated standards from physical condition through training and a transparent discipline process. Then the little town can choose to step up or defer the job to the next level up, likely the county. There's no reason the county's deputies can't coach little league.
    "I’ve come to realize manual transmission cars and 1911s have something in common—a person who steals one probably won’t know how to use it." - Hideeho

  5. #5
    Chronic Leg Day Skipper BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Without small police departments the vast majority of rural and small town America would have no police. Training requirements and capability vary wildly, as does equipment and even if 24 hour coverage is available. However, they handle the vast majority of routine policing and provide valuable local intel when something too big for them to handle pops off and other supporting departments/agencies roll in to help. Saying there should be no small departments is shutting down a 90% solution in favor of a 0% one. Some massive police department will not deploy 3 officers to Sleepytown that has a low level drug problem, some domestics, and the normal traffic crashes, shoplifters, property disputes, etc. They will send them to Shitsville with a murder rate. Sleepytown will now have zero police but will still be paying the taxes for them.

    Where it may make less sense is tiny unincorporated areas that are also serviced by a large PD/SD. You see this were a big city has expanded and 'eaten' a small town decades or centuries ago but that small town still exists as a legal fiction. In my experience these are often financial devices and job creation programs and are more likely to suffer corruption. A rural 10 man department knows they are the actual police and the cavalry is a long way off so there is a lot riding on them. A unincorporated area knows the large PD is really the main PD, will take over anything serious, will respond when they have nobody working, etc. and often develops an identity crisis or struggles to justify their existence. Or they are a way for people who can't otherwise be the police (due to age, for example) to get a badge so they can work security as an off duty officer, etc by being a reserve.
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  6. #6
    Just here for the "expert" police commentary.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I think its a valid argument. Small towns aren't Mayberry anymore. Maybe the solution is much higher state mandated standards from physical condition through training and a transparent discipline process. Then the little town can choose to step up or defer the job to the next level up, likely the county. There's no reason the county's deputies can't coach little league.
    This is close to what I have been suggesting for a number of years after moving from a mid size suburb to rural area. Have the higher state mandated standards for initial and in service training and have regional group or alliances to test and procure equipment while expanding training in budget, diversity and quality. However you can still have smaller agencies with local control if the community wants and can afford it. It would just be required to continue to meet the standards by connecting with regional law enforcement group if a small community couldn't otherwise meet higher standards. There also could be regional/metro/county level agencies that cover smaller towns and rural areas with assigned beats and span of control management and input. The larger the order the more the benefit of economy of scale when it comes to equipment purposes but also larger agency can have dedicated training officer(s) and staff and related facilities that many smaller or lower budgeted agencies can't. There is a way to leverage the power of the large with the service of the small while improving quality at the same time.

    The problem comes from local mayors and police chiefs that want full control of "Their" police and they sell it to the populace as "we don't want big city policing us or we will be lost and forgotten if we don't have our own police"

  8. #8
    Does Not Work For You TGS's Avatar
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    Logistically, there's no reason a state police force could not function as the defacto policing institution in America. There's nothing logistically unique about America that prevents this from happening, and is a pretty standard policing model across the world. The only thing that prevents it from happening in America is the political game. It'll never happen on a widespread scale in America given that policing is a state's issue and cannot be dictated by the federal government, and most states have zero interest in going to this model and plenty of opposition to it from the various small towns and counties who want to safeguard their fiefdoms.

    In the northeast, most of the state police agencies have their origins in serving as the primary policing for rural areas and small towns. My dad started with the NJ State Police in 1965, and I don't think they even picked up the highway/motor vehicles enforcement mission until the 70s when a distinctly separate agency responsible for such merged with them, along with the maritime police, capitol police, etc. Up until then, they were strictly a full service police agency for small towns and rural areas, with their barracks placement to reflect that. Even today, the NJ State Police provides primary policing to a significant chunk of NJ's landmass which has either no police department or a part time police department (extremely common, like where I grew up).

    With that said, you'd need a complete re-write of a given state's constitution to mandate a state police force and get rid of local policing. Any town that can afford its own police will...especially affluent towns that want more police than a cop-to-crime ratio employed by a statewide agency would allow. You saw this in play when the city of Camden, NJ disbanded its police department to form a county police department. However, the city and county did not possess the statutory power or political leverage to force the other towns to disband their police departments and force their involvement into the county police, and so you ended up with the Camden County Police Department that serves only hte city of Camden. Ain't nobody else around Camden that is going to buy into a county police department just to see all the cops that previously patrolled their town slapped with a county badge and told to go into the city...the rest of Camden county would basically lose their police presence.

    Besides that, I'm vehemently opposed to small police departments. The amount of corruption, incompetence, and waste involved in small municipal services is fucking staggering......as in, off the charts. I don't pretend to know what's right for Texas other than to let them secede so they can go do their annoying "huur durr hurr I'M A TEXAN" oogie-cookie circle jerk somewhere else, but municipal policing should be the exception and not the norm for the vast majority of America. I think county level policing is a happy middle ground.
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    None of these solutions matter if you keep losing viable to excellent officers worn out from the BS of this culture and replace them with flaccid, trepid husks that will run and hide when trouble shows up. Plus, what few are thinking about is that those replacements will be bosses and IACP stars in a few years.

    And @TGS, with regard to Texas reasserting itself as an independent nation, it appears there is a better than even chance we will hold a vote on that issue in November 2023. There was a 90% approval of the issue at the state Republican convention recently and strong across the political spectrum support for it in the past few weeks. Stand by and buckle up.
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  10. #10
    Here's something I put together a few years ago. I am providing it simply to give a statewide numerical reference.

    As part of a panel discussion in which I have been involved, I began researching law enforcement agency sizes. I limited my research to GA alone as I have access to that data.
    The gateway lists 1196 LE agencies in GA, but this number reflects every possible agency with some sort of POST-certified employee. For example, if a city has a POST-certified employee working as a one-person code enforcement agency, it counts as an agency.

    I downloaded the list into a spreadsheet and went through it removing everything but Sheriff's Offices and county/municipal PDs with the exception of a few marshal's offices, such as DeKalb, which I know to be in the business of executing court orders and arrest warrants differentiating them from code enforcement agencies.

    I mean no slight to campus agencies, state agencies, arson investigators, code enforcement, etc. Those agencies are beyond the scope of the discussion for which I was compiling the research. Please note that I rounded all averages to whole numbers.

    Important note: The employee totals are for all agency employees and are not broken down by “sworn” and “non-sworn” (certified peace officer or not) as I have no way of ascertaining those figures. POST lists the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office as having 93 current employees. I know from our own internal numbers that 62 of those are “sworn”, but I don’t have access to that data for other agencies.

    The grand total at which I arrived is 528 agencies at an average of 64 employees per agency.

    As GA has 159 counties, each required by our state constitution to have the Office of the Sheriff, we have 369 other county/municipal legislatively created agencies.

    138 (25%) agencies have 10 or fewer employees.

    254 (48%) agencies have 20 or fewer employees.

    74 (14%) agencies have more than 100 employees.

    Removing the five core Metro-Atlanta counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett, the average drops to 49.

    Expand to the wider Metro area also removing Douglass, Fayette, Henry, and Rockdale Counties, the average drops to 46.

    I did not work the numbers for also removing the Augusta-Richmond County, Athens-Clarke County Columbus-Muscogee County, Macon-Bibb County, or Savannah-Chatham County metro areas.

    The average size of a Sheriff’s Office in GA is 112 employees. Glascock, Quitman, and Webster Counties tie for the smallest at six employees. Fulton County is the largest at 933.

    107 of the 159 Sheriffs’ Offices have less than 100 employees. Twenty have 20 employees or less, and seven have 10 or less.

    The average size of a PD in GA is 44 employees. Remove the Atlanta PD and it drops to 39.

    130 (35%) of the 372 municipal/county PDs have 10 or fewer employees. 234 (63%) have 20 or fewer employees.




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