Actually, Getting Rid Of Local Policing Is A Terrible Idea

Deputy Matt Deputy Sheriff
Font Size:

I’m sitting here trying to write a logical rebuttal to this article calling for an end to local policing, but the utter lack of logic demonstrated by the highly educated, PhD-holding author is mind numbing. It demonstrates that one can work in law enforcement for 17 years without learning anything about law enforcement. It also perfectly demonstrates that a degree does not denote intelligence, just perseverance.

In his second paragraph, the author betrays his lack of law enforcement knowledge, despite supposedly having served 17 years with the LAPD. He describes the protests currently occurring across the nation as demonstrations against police brutality and misconduct, but I do not know a single cop who would characterize what is happening that way. The protests are based on the perception of racism, and racial injustice, that have been 100 percent fueled by racists and race baiters who make their living from this sort of discontent. The grand jury findings exonerated Wilson, stating outright that his actions were in fact not “brutal” or any form of “misconduct.” The author is totally ignoring reality, and instead is playing off the distortions sold by a biased media and people like Al Sharpton.

The following quote, when considered from a perspective based on reality, is completely baffling.

But the real problem with law enforcement is far more systemic. Issues of unprofessional and inefficient policing are rooted in our decentralized approach to policing, allowing some local departments to get away with subpar officer training, shoddy practices and corruption. This fossilized and inefficient system needs to be thrown out. Instead, policing should be managed at the state level, which would provide for higher-quality law enforcement and more oversight.

Because having local control of the cops is inefficient? Because having people who live in the community they police, including the administrators, is bad? Because the people who live there have no access to their locally elected officials who are in charge of those agencies? I’m trying to figure out in what universe the author lives, but in mine, locally elected officials are far more responsive to their community’s needs than state level officials are, and by a very large margin.

Furthermore, the author somehow thinks that having smaller agencies is somehow responsible for lack of training. If he really was a cop and worked for the LAPD, then the author has to be familiar with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). Stealing CA POST’s description from their website: “The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) was established by the Legislature in 1959 to set minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement.” Not all states have the exact same standards, but I do not know of a state that does not have some sort of POST agency equivalent. Despite what this author would have the reader believe, law enforcement training standards are not set by the agency, and his suggesting that they are is wholly incorrect.

Another falsehood presented by Dutta in that same quote is that having multiple agencies somehow reduces oversight. In fact, the opposite is true. If there is only one large law enforcement agency, then they are the only agency that will be responsible for overseeing themselves. As it is now, outside agencies provide a level of oversight that is not possible if everyone is under the same umbrella. If there are allegations of police misconduct, currently you can go to that agency to complain, another local agency, then to the state, then to the feds. In his version of what should be, you can only go to the one and only agency that there is. How on earth does that improve oversight?

Jurisdictions that can’t afford officers must contract with county police or neighboring agencies, which can cloud accountability and breed resentment in the community.

Again, this is nonsense. The agency I work for has smaller cities that contract with my agency to provide police services. Both the LAPD and LASO have contract cities that they provide services for. I don’t think you could possibly find someone in the entire Los Angeles basin who does not know who to call in order to get in touch with their law enforcement agency.

In fact, the author’s assertion is entirely removed from reality, and this quote actually proves that what he is arguing for is actually a bad thing. If his claim that a statewide agency is the solution, then why are smaller cities, even in the People’s Republiq of Kalifornia where I work, which previously contracted with larger agencies for law enforcement services, taking on the extra costs and liabilities associated with starting their own police departments? Two of the cities my department previously contracted with have set out on their own and established their own departments. Why? Because they want better, local control of what their cops do. These are real world examples of the desire to keep control local, not on a larger county level, and definitely not a statewide level.

When an uncooperative driver refuses to provide his license to a cop, officers in one jurisdiction might respond with verbal judo, but in the neighboring town, it could result in arrest or use of force.

You mean to tell us that one cop might do something differently from another cop? You mean people do not all behave in the same way? I handle calls for service differently from other deputies on my department. That is because we are all individuals and we bring different life experience, education and even personal perspectives with us everywhere we go. So long as the law is being adhered to during the enforcement encounter, the author’s point here is completely invalid. Only when the officer exceeds the limits of the law should we be concerned. Heck, I handle calls differently from one day to the next depending on many things, including but not limited to how many utterly stupid articles about creating one giant centralized police force I have read that day.

I did find one point the author makes to be a valid point of contention, and that is this:

There are numerous other flaws with decentralized law enforcement. The current model hinders coordination and information sharing between law enforcement agencies, and creates expensive redundancies in resources. It also allows for crime displacement, where suppression of crime in one jurisdiction simply moves criminals into neighboring areas.

While I do agree that those are actually valid issues, we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater. There are much simpler ways of addressing those concerns, and ways that do not create some giant, centralized police behemoth. Bigger is not always better, and in terms of government, bigger is never better. I cannot think of a single example of a government agency that became more responsive or efficient as it grew larger, yet I can think of hundreds of examples of the exact opposite happening. Calling for a larger, centralized police force is something a big government progressive would want to do, not someone who wants better policing.