Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Traffic Cops Jogging? - Why Local Control of the Police is a Bad Idea

When you mix Dave Helling's journalistic judgment and the inability of some council members to think before they speak, you wind up with a KC Star front page that makes it clear why we do not want our City Council involved with decision-making for our Police Department.

Several Council members are shocked, simply shocked, that the Police Department bought cars for the officers to use. Their shock is triggered by the unheard-of concept that the Police Department didn't wait until after they needed the cars to purchase and outfit them for regular use, patrolling our streets and keeping us safe.

I suppose, if you're really, really thoughtless (or really, really stretching for news), you could argue that it looks bad that the Police Department spent $2.1 million over a couple budget years to adequately equip our police force with vehicles, at the same time they were complaining that the City Council preferred to donate $2 million for stadiums rather than invest in public safety. The coincidence of similar numbers, plus the eagerness of some Council members to play politics with our safety, makes for an intoxicating mix.

Sadly, some of the Council members are demonstrating their financial illiteracy by arguing that the money spent on cars should have been spent on keeping some of the cops on the street that they themselves idled. There's a difference between capital expenditures and payroll. The "rob Peter to pay Paul" idiocy espoused by some council members goes a long way toward explaining why politically ambitious City Council members make such terrible decisions for our city when it comes to spending money.

Right now, our Police Department is overseen by an appointed board, and City Council members will agree - off the record - that it is one of the best-run departments in the City. But it bothers them that the only control they have over the Police is in approving the budget. As they demonstrate in today's paper, they thirst for the ability to micro-manage the Police Department and misdirect funds to cover their own mistakes. As they also demonstrate in today's paper, such local control would be an unmitigated catastrophe for the citizens of Kansas City.

It was a blow to our collective safety when City Council members chose to fund stadiums instead of police in the last budget cycle. Perhaps they should direct their attention to micro-managing the Royals instead of taking potshots at the Police Department.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your favorite Councilmember's position on this issue?

7/01/2009 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strong words for Jan Marcason and Deb Herman - accusing them of

- the inability to think before they speak

- being really, really thoughtless

- playing politics withour safety

- being finincially illiterate

- idiocy

- being politically ambitious makingterrible decisions

- thristy for micromanagement of the KCPD

- causing a blow to our collective safety

All of these harsh criticisms for two concilmembers who are simply questioning a large expenditure, which is a very legitimate thing for them to do.

I guess you'll be voting for whoever is running against Jan next time. How could you possibly vote for Jan on a second term, if she is finacially illiterate and damaging our collective safety?

7/01/2009 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Lance said...

But wouldn't local control provide some measure of accountability?

As it is, people have no recourse against a Board member for setting bad policy.

Also, the police don't have a legal duty to stop any given crime, even when it is being committed right in front of them.

Sorry to be so critical of your position, but it only makes sense to pay people for "keeping us safe" if a) we could hold them accountable when they failed to do so; and b) they worked on property crimes and crimes of violence only, leaving issues of victimless moral turpitude to the judgment of each individual.

7/01/2009 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are spot on. It is remarkable that the City is boggled by the expenditure on cars. There are no secrets.

Agendas for police board meetings are posted for the public to see. Police board meetings are open to the public. Expenditures like car purchases are subject to open discussion and a public vote. Local media outlets almost always have representatives at the public meetings. Yet somehow the city is shocked that the police bought some cars?

And the Star is critical that it will takes months to roll the cars out. The police department handles radio installation and maintenance for every single city vehicle not just police cars. With $15M in funding cuts, the police can't hire anyone to help roll out the new cars any faster.

Maybe they should sell the new cars and just let the officers sit in the office and review the red-light camera tapes so the city can collect some more money.

Unreal. Just imagine the police department being run by the clowns at city hall. Scary, scary, scary.

7/01/2009 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problme for Corwin is that that this issue makes him look very gamey and political. Just several months ago he was decrying that he had "not one extra dollar" to pay to put officers on the street and actually cancelled the last recruit class. Problem for him is that the cost of purchasing and storing these cars is MUCH more than the pricetag for the above items he said he couldn't afford. What then are Corwins priorities? Cars over cops? Getting his way over protecting us?

Bottom line: Corwin was just caught playing a poltical game of roultette with the council over my saftey. Give him his money or he would cut police services. Problem is, there was enough money in the budget to cut his budget and provide the services.

I have been a supporter of his, but this is too much to defend.

7/01/2009 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the police cars are so obviously the right thing to buy, why did the KCPD say the Aviation department "violated the trust" of the Police Department (per spokesman Rich Lockhart) by taking pictures of the cars?

Why is the KCPD so defensive?

7/01/2009 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

because they knew dumbshits like Helling would make a big deal of it.

7/01/2009 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is nothing but the usual political posturing by the City Council, and by its most stupid members. They screwed up the finances of the City by transferring MILLIONS of dollars to support TIFs that are unable to support themselves (there's a shock - not!). Right now, they are trying REALLY hard to shift the blame for their own malfeasance. They particularly love picking on the KCPD because the community OVERWHELMINGLY supports the KCPD and the community OVERWHELMINGLY realizes the City Council (and the two members quoted) basically blow. That's all this is - fingerpointing. For the City to wrest control over the KCPD would be a disaster of epic proportions. They can't even manage a meeting!

7/01/2009 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People in our city may support the police, but this chief is more politiician than cop.

7/01/2009 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, keep defending Funkhouser - it's working out so well for you.


7/01/2009 9:40 PM  
Anonymous rey rey said...

yep having no local accountability with our police force is the way to go. Every other city does is the other way except us and STL. Were SOOOO much smarter than everyone else...LOL

7/02/2009 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it's not that we are so much smarter - it's that our City govt is so much more corrupt. Pretty simple, really.

7/02/2009 4:59 PM  

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