Saturday, July 14, 2007

Poor Image Dogs Police

The police have a bad reputation to overcome.


I wonder why.

Partly due to inside corruption and the impenetrable blue line,

partly due to incidents like 92 year old Katherine Johnson's here in Atlanta and the use of extreme force/measures to execute the law,

partly due to our not having much interaction on a daily basis with friendly officers

Prior to the past week or so, I can't tell you the last time I saw a police cruiser pulled over at the side of the road assisting someone changing a tire. It's been ages. I actually saw one last week and was shocked.

There are no foot patrols anymore. No Officer Friendly walking the beat and stopping by local shops to chat and ask owners/citizens how things are going. Not to mention, use that opportunity to gather intelligence regarding what the people are seeing and hearing. At the very least foot bound officers are more likely to establish a relationship with their precinct.

You know where I see the most police? No, not the doughnut shop. Harrassing everyday motorists with speed traps. Yes, stop speeders. But we ALL speed. Catch the worst of us and not the folks that do 10 mph higher than the limit because that is the de facto, democratically practiced speed policy. I see all these policemen manning these revenue cordons on my local surface streets and wonder why they aren't cruising our neighborhoods on the lookout for gangs, truants, doing foot patrols, etc....

Oh, the other place I see police the most? Directing traffic. Usually for some busy store without a stoplight or at an accident sight. And they seem to do an awfully poor job of understanding traffic flow, queing and all the other logistic issues around moving people through a constricted road artery. One little customer wants to leave the store, and Mr. Officer holds up all traffic, during a green light to let this priveleged shop's customer safely enter the traffic flow. Couldn't wait 30 seconds for a more suitable opportunity where there's a natural lull in the flow.

Not to mention, at accident sites, the police cruisers are parked haphazardly blocking twice as many lanes of the freeway than are needed, while the police "ooh and ahh" at the latest road carnage. How about a cordon of officers moving the rubberneckers along? And as soon as a lane is clear of evidence, get it out of my way and open up the road a bit more. I wonder how much road rage and frustration increases due to poor accident site management. People are more likely to speed and drive crazy to make up for lost time, leading to more incidents 'down the road'.

There was a meeting here in Atlanta recently regarding the poor image of the Police. Likely what will come out of it is little substance and yet another new paint scheme for our police vehicles. No increase in police numbers and friendly, daily interaction with our law enforcement. More of the same. But I do have higher hopes.

Only time will tell.