Something called the Community-First Public Safety Commission, which has 46 current members, is charged with providing guidance to the city of St. Paul — the same thing is going on in Minneapolis — on alternative forms of policing. For example, many traffic stops involving expired tabs or broken lights would be shelved. OK, but what about …?
The commission’s recommendations are as bountiful as they are fanciful, a roving mobile mental health team working around the clock, “peer responders’’ or mental health professionals to perform welfare checks, “community liaisons’’ to respond to juvenile matters. OK, but what about …?
It is not entirely folly to relieve police of what are believed to be low-level calls for service. We don’t need a cop to get a cat down from a tree. The problem these days is trying to determine if there really is such a thing as a low-level call for service. Crime is rampant. The bullets are flying, wounding and killing even innocent children. As a “community liaison,’’ presumably unarmed, do you want to respond to a disorderly conduct call or noise complaint?
Didn’t think so.
But disorderly conduct and noise complaints are considered by the commission to be low-level. Well, in Mayberry maybe.
These commissions and study groups and community gabfests are all born of the same ideological fault. In the year since George Floyd died under a policeman’s knee, the political class has tried to sell the public on the idea that police are the problem, not the criminals shooting each other. Derek Chauvin has been dealt with. Crime has not. Oh, but if only we could re-imagine police, why crime would magically disappear. It won’t. With each new ridiculous idea from the salon crime gets worse.
The commission’s recommendations, made in good, if not clouded, faith, do not take into account the current conditions, which are terrible. With each call to defund the police or somehow denigrate them crime has increased. There were 63 shootings in St. Paul in the first four months of the year, compared to 44 at the same time last year. A couple of Saturdays ago there were 173 shots fired in three different incidents. That has to be a record for a two-hour span!
We need a commission to call for more police, not to “re-imagine’’ what they should be doing. Actually, we don’t. It shouldn’t take 46 people to see the nose on our face. We are struggling with crime and wanton gunplay. Why should our city or any other go down the no return road of de-policing ourselves?
In 2019 St. Paul had 639 sworn officers. Today it’s down to 585, and the department is seeing a shortage of applicants to its training academy. Is that any wonder?
Crime is the result of a breakdown in moral and ethical integrity across all races and socioeconomic strata. That is not the fault of a police department. And no community liaison is going to solve it. A family has to solve it. A family has to instill in children a respect for life and for authority.
You would think that the police could get a little help in the respect department from the same politicians who hire them, but apparently it’s more virtuous to put together a commission of 46 people to pretend they know more than the badged man or woman who responds to 173 shots fired in two hours.
In St. Paul.
Joe Soucheray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Soucheray’s “Garage Logic’’ podcast can be heard at garagelogic.com.
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Author: Joe Soucheray