The global spotlight has been cast on Ferguson and various municipalities that have been caught with revenue-generating policies that inappropriately use the police, ticketing and courts. The use of police officers and law enforcement as a means of raising revenue is indefensible. In order to advance the interests of our community, we must start by revamping our police services, and correct injustices. The rightful job of law enforcement is to keep the peace, make our streets and communities safe, and protect our citizens and businesses through the proper enforcement of our laws.
We take pride in and want to preserve our neighborhoods and their distinctive cultures. Yet, we work, shop, and enjoy all our larger community has to offer. We drive across local city borders on a daily basis. Our families rely upon the police services provided throughout the metro area, not just in the city where we reside, and we all benefit by having consistency and equity across our community.
What if we had nine boroughs, with police departments in each borough, charged with patrol and local enforcement? Each borough would have its own chief of police and cadre of patrolmen, sergeants, lieutenants, and captains. These nine chiefs, all professionals skilled in law enforcement, would sit on a police board, served by a professional administrator. The board would provide standardized and shared minimum police qualifications, would be vested with the authority to compel compliance, and would oversee dispatching, crisis response, major case squad and other central services. Recruitment and pay scales would be under the control of a civil service commission, which would establish and adjust pay grades and be in charge of assembling a pool of qualified police recruits. The boroughs would draw from this pool of screened applicants in filling vacancies and be bound by the pay schedule, with hiring decisions, promotions, discipline and terminations left to the discretion of the borough chief.
A citizens’ advisory commission would provide for citizen input and grievances. This body would be advisory only, but have the authority to identify improper conduct and policy and escalate valid complaints and suggestions to the appropriate department for action.
Funding and budgets are vitally important. The CEO and his/her administration would determine total available revenues to be submitted to the council of mayors for allocation. With the allotted funds, the police board would then determine a budget, and return it to the council for approval. This will enable the allocation of resources to be made to all neighborhoods and each borough depending on the police board’s strategy for fighting crime all across the region and bolstering effective professional law enforcement.
In the forthcoming service-by-service analysis, the civil service commission and the citizens advisory commission will serve in the same capacity. We are hoping to survive another round. Remember we are all in this together.