Between the micromanagement, the 20/20 hindsight judgements and the “help,” from the politicians, people don’t want to be cops anymore.
In an earlier post on AFNN I made the point that Body Worn Cameras (BWC) have, for the most part, been a positive for policing. More times than not, when an alleged infraction occurs, it disproves the complaint and clears the officer of wrongdoing.
The bad side of BWCs it takes away our discretion. The classic example is allowing a drunk driver, who otherwise has never had any infraction (i.e., this is his first mistake) take a cab, get driven home, etc. This gets the hazard off the roads and gets a cop back on the street quickly. However, and more than one cop has experienced this, if this discretion is outside of department policy, the agency will likely take action against the officer.
I know that for fact. An officer had a video randomly reviewed by a sergeant and it showed him pulling over an obviously drunk driver. Some people told the officer, “We’ll take him home,” and one of them took his vehicle. Presumably the drunk was driven home and the hazard was handled. Good for the driver, but not for the officer. He was terminated for allowing a drunk driver to be driven home in violation of department policy.
Last week I watched a report on the Houston Police Department and its challenges with manpower. The department has around 5,000 officers on the force. The city has paid multiple consultants to tell them, “You need at least 6,300 officers on the force…” You don’t say. I started on HPD in 1998, we had around 4, 800 officers and we were understrength then. The population of the city was 1, 953, 000. Now almost 25 years later, it’s still at 5, 000, while the population of the city had surged to 2, 310, 000.
Chicago at present has 2.7 million people, and Houston is estimated to overtake the Windy City as the third largest city in America sometime before 2030. However, the Chicago Police has 11, 670 sworn personnel as of one year ago, and that’s after a massive attrition in the aftermath of Mayor Beetlejuice and the George Floyd riots. Also, Chicago is 231 square miles, while Houston is 665 square miles.
Back to the report from earlier, the Houston Police Officer Union President Doug Griffith mentioned how officers are frustrated at the micromanagement from the department, and how officers are concerned they will be destroyed with 20/20 hindsight thanks to BWCs. Understandably officers are afraid people sitting in an internal affairs office will judge men and women on the street, making decisions in seconds. Too many officers know someone who has been wrongly accused, and wrongly “convicted.” While they may not have been charged with a crime, they may have been suspended or terminated, and must appeal to get their time or employment back.
Speaking with a friend over this before the George Floyd rush out. Houston is running five academy classes a year right now. I told him,
“Look at the numbers, you need 1,200 more officers to become what you know you need. Assume you get all five academy classes fully staffed (75 cadets, never happens, just go with me here) and all graduate (again, never happens), all make it off probation (never happens) and they fill up the department. That’s 375 rookie officers on the street. The average attrition of the department (pre George Floyd) was 225 officers a year (retirement, resignations, etc.). In a perfect year you get a new gain of 150 new officers. To gain the needed 1,200 officers would require 8 years of perfection. And in the wake of the George Floyd riots, defund the police movement, etc., Houston Police is losing closer to 275 officers a year.”
You would think local politicians would want to be supportive of law enforcement as murders have soared since 2019, we’re having an epidemic of catalytic converter thefts, armed robberies and other violent crimes. Well, wanting to be supportive to the cops, State Representative Jolanda Jones has decided cops need to carry liability insurance for doing their jobs:
AUSTIN, Texas — A proposed Texas law to address police killings and misconduct would require police officers to have liability insurance.
It’s a move the bill’s sponsor, Houston State Rep. Jolanda Jones, said will make cops think twice before unnecessary action against the public. The bill was inspired in part by the beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police, which resulted in his death.
“For far too long law enforcement officers use their jobs to justify taking extreme, unjustified actions that kill our neighbors, friends and family,” Jones said.
The relatively new lawmaker filed HB 1808, which would require peace officers across Texas to carry personal liability insurance as a condition of their employment.
“You can’t waffle taxpayers to pay for rouge officers,” Jones said.
Jones is a defense attorney as well as a state legislator and said the bill would shift the burden of paying out settlements of misconduct from taxpayers to the officer.
“It is time that we have meaningful police reform while providing relief for taxpayers for police misconduct,” Jones said…
Additionally, the Houston representative said the bill would not impact qualified immunity. Jones argued this law won’t impact police staffing or recruitment.
“What are you afraid of?” Jones questioned. “If you’re a good officer, you literally have nothing to worry about…”
Departments across the country are already having to put on sign on bonuses, helping with moving costs, are lowering hiring standards. Now being told you will be held responsible for a rogue judgement for a split-second decision, so you must carry personal liability insurance. I wonder if Mrs. Jones, who BTY shirted criminal liability while being a member of the Houston City Council, should be required to carry liability insurance for her actions in her official capacity? I think we know the answer to that.
But such stupidly and micromanagement is not limited to Texas (at least we know Ms Jones bill will never see the light of day). In the People’s Democratic Republic of Kalifornia (PDRK), Democrats want to ban patrol K9s. Assembly Bill 742 is not race baiting propaganda, is it:
SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) The use of police canines has been a mainstay in the constant dehumanizing, cruel abuse of Black Americans and people of color in this country. Be it in response to the Black Lives Matter protests over the murder of George Floyd, during the Los Angeles Race Riots and the Civil Rights Movement, or by slave catchers, police canines are a carryover from a dark past that is not often discussed.
No, what patrol dogs are is an intermediate weapon, that have saved countless lives over by running down suspects and holding them until the two-legged cops arrive. Not to mention the mere presence of a dog will restrain people from preforming illegal actions (how many garages, junk yards, and other businesses use dogs for patrol at night?).
Micromanaging police pursuits. In 2021, Washington restricted how police across the state could pursue suspects. Now a watered down version of the law passed. But the question is this, if you announce to the criminal element we won’t pursue, do you think they won’t run? Yes, they will. If they run, will the cops catch them? No. Hearing politicians ready to throw them under the bus, cops will let the suspect go and live to get one day closer to retirement. Crazy you think? Well, seeing San Francisco is not prosecuting theft under 950.00, and people are just walking out with merchandize in front of security, what’s stopping them.
Too many examples abound on how politicians are micromanaging or otherwise interfering with police operations. Making law enforcement a less desirable career path will limit the recruiting pool of talent entering the police agencies, and a common response to that is lowering standards for admission.
Sound crazy? Memphis TN reportedly did, and they are paying the price (literally and financially) for this. Or another example from my hometown, in 1993 New Orleans Police hired a psychopath who murdered her partner and several family members in a restaurant, as well as her father. Law enforcement is too critical a career path to force good people out of. But with the politicians trying to destroy policing, you’re going to have it fielded with less qualified applicants. And the results will be a disaster.
Michael A. Thiac is a retired Army intelligence officer, with over 23 years experience, including serving in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. He is also a retired police patrol sergeant, with over 22 years’ service, and over ten year’s experience in field training of newly assigned officers. He has been published at The American Thinker, PoliceOne.com, and on his personal blog, A Cop’s Watch.
Opinions expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers.
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2 thoughts on “The Police Are Short-The Politicians Are Not Helping”
Sylvester Turner, Houston City Council, on the city level and Rodney Ellis, Lina Hidalgo, on the county level, an their corrupt minions, have turned the City of Houston in to a Scat Francisco lite, and are trying to do the same ting to Harris County. Both of these entities have blue governance. The 2022 election, run by Harris County was a joke. Mal-functioning voting machines, precincts opening late, lack of paper for ballot production, a joke. But, where did these incidents happen? Red precincts. Any surprise. Thanks for your service on HPD, Mr. Thiac. There are many good LEO’s in the metro Houston area, but the leftist politicians have them handcuffed.
Thank you, and I noticed on this morning’s Chronicle HISD has stopped resisting the state takeover of the board. I would hope the state DOE will start looking at contacts, and how many are made to friends of the mayor, the county judge, etc.