Bloat, and more bloat

BY TONY BOUZA

[On Sunday, July 29, The StarTribune reported: “Arradondo told reporters after a meeting of the City Council’s public safety committee that he wanted to add 400 more street officers by 2025 in order to keep pace with attrition and population growth.
“Last week, Arradondo shared a startling statistic: Over a 12-month period dating back to last summer, police officials counted 1,251 instances in which no squads were immediately available to respond to a Priority 1 call, such as a shooting, domestic assault or a drug overdose. And because of the way the data is compiled, that number might actually be higher, police say.”]
No thanks to any police chief in America, crime has never been lower. Thank Harry Blackmun and his Roe v. Wade, or even Clinton for his welfare reforms.
Yet bloat abounds.
Idiots get elected to Drain the Swamp and dumb voters believe it.
The British Admiralty had the most clerks when it had the fewest ships.
I took some real serious heat when I shifted from all two-cop patrols to one in 1981. I could then answer emergency calls at twice the rates—although 911 would not be brought in for two years—another battle. We had 700 cops and no promotions for nine years. At the end we still had bloat. And I said so.
Today, cops work four days a week—and second jobs for three. They don’t have to pay the 20 million dollar settlement because they don’t live here. Their out-of-control actions—here and everywhere in the U.S. (including my alma mater NYPD)—continue with no interruptions. They’ve abandoned aggressive and legal police approaches like Decoys, Stings and Stakeouts.
Lots of chiefs—few workers.
The inefficiency, lack of accountability and waste are disgraceful—and—yet, not a finger is lifted to change anything. The technical term for all this—in case you’ve forgotten—is featherbedding.
Is it as bad as under Mayor Charles Stenvig (3X in the ’70s)? The honest answer is yes and no! Yes, there are bloated ranks, four-day weeks, union power and such. The huge settlements, yes, but, no, there is not the naked, blatant spoils system of political rewards. The union is in charge, but they are not the mayor.
One-person patrols and 911 enabled us to promise—and deliver—response to all genuine emergencies within six minutes. Four-day weeks and two-person patrols make this an impossible promise to keep.
A cop shoots and there is no accountability, only an obscene settlement. There used to be Firearms Discharge Review Boards.
Who, in our system, gets rewarded for reforms? No one. Instead, enablers get plaques of praise from the union. Everyone recoils from the horror of a vote of no confidence.
Capitalism works because if you don’t produce you are fired. If your product isn’t great a competitor eats your lunch. America’s greatness lies in its capitalist capacity to create wealth. Policing is socialism. No one gets fired and it’s a free lunch.
I’ve cited one example after another in countless essays and my actions during a career that spanned 36 years and three agencies. If you plugged my name into a NYPD chatroom you’d get a flood of denunciations for what a fool and idiot I am. A friend of mine did so and was really shocked.
And how have chiefs responded? “More cops are the answer.”
My answer was fewer cops and work them smarter.
That view, you’ll be shocked to learn, was wildly unpopular with five of the 13 council members there in the ’80s. They relied on the police union for money, votes and support.
The answer is really quite simple—appoint the union president as chief of police and cancel the charade.
The incumbent, whose style and personality I envy, answers the diminishing challenge to America’s cops by calling for more hires. Flood the swamp. Catchy.
What the police chief should do—if he really wanted to do the right thing—is call for fewer cops. Work them eight hours in a five-day week, control overtime, reduce the supervisory numbers dramatically, install accountability and remain the charming, sweet person he is.
There’s a wonderful NYPD expression for all this—but don’t read on if you’re easily offended: “They’re pissing all over you and telling you it’s raining.”
Get an umbrella.

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