Budget cuts result in resetting priorities. That applies to your family, your company, or a government entity. In this, our third installment addressing reductions in municipal and county budgets and specifically police departments and sheriff’s offices, we’ll examine further constraints and make some suggestions that hopefully will be considered and discussed/debated.
As mentioned last week, a number of cuts were noted at the IACP-SACOP meeting several weeks ago. In addition to those we wrote about in our previous blogs, they also include:
• An inability to respond to all the typical calls for service, resulting in having to re-evaluate priorities and critical core needs. Alarms were definitely mentioned during the meeting, and we can expect some serious impact.
• There is an extreme frustration by law enforcement executives with city council and county commission/elected officials regarding their lack of understanding about the immediate and long-term ramifications of applying drastic cuts to public safety interests. The chiefs and sheriffs see short-term thinking about solutions, and if seasoned professionals leave, crime skyrockets, and recruitment is nearly impossible, with benefits no better than the average city/county employee. What will be the cost to recover? Can they invest enough to recover? How long will it take to rebuild the law enforcement agency?
• Career criminals are being let out of jail sooner to save money.
As an industry, we must find a way to continue to improve OUR systems, help law enforcement with technology (catch the bad guys) and politically show our support. Those are three clear cut and easy ways each of us can contribute to solutions. Remember, generally a chief is NOT ALLOWED (by the city manager) to lobby for funds or make presentations to the council on the impact of budget cuts, but are instead told to “accept the cuts and make it work,” … and sheriffs many times find themselves in the same situation with county commissions.
Long-term planning and sustainable funding are clearly important. Let your elected officials know you support long-term public safety goals and the resources to reach them. Let’s do our part. Belts will be tightened, as they should be. At the same time, we must also band together. If we want safer communities 5-10 years down the road, the electronic security industry should be a large part of the solution. It’s up to each of us to get it there.