Sunday, March 28, 2010

Officers: Keeping the streets safe starts with safe streets

I realize it's probably annoying at times for the police officers I work with to hear me say, "When I was a cop" followed by some anecdote of keeping the peace in the mid-1970's.  There are times, though, when these discussions are necessary.  This is one of them.

Truth be told -- "Radar" was said to be my middle name (and it had nothing to do with the character in M*A*S*H).  Former Grant  County Deputy Jim Stark used to remind me, though, that there was more to being a cop than "running radar."  Of course he was right.

Much of what police officers do is geared to keep our streets safe.  That said, keeping the streets safe starts with keeping safe streets. 

I am appalled each day when I drive around and see the many pot holes, worn out signs and decayed roadways.  When I was a cop we took note of these deficiencies, called them in and, unless an immediate response was in order, the dispatchers presented a list of the needed repairs each morning to the appropriate crews.

Why isn't this being done now?  And if it is, then why aren't the repairs happening?  How much time and does it take to call in a pot hole or a burned out street light?  As for deficient signs, state law requires all traffic signs to conform to the Uniform Manual of Traffic Control Devices.  How hard is it to pick up a microphone and call in a sign that needs replacement or repair?

Not very time consuming.  Not very hard.  And there's no excuse -- none -- for officers failing to comply with the time-honored community caretaking function of American law enforcement.

I love our officers dearly but there are some who need a reminder that there's more to the job than making arrests.

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