Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Responsibility to Protect

This is the key element of all public service provided by government and it most rightly falls upon those we describe as first responders—police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel—so any cuts to the level of service provided by first responders is a shirking of that key responsibility.

As this article notes, calls for those type of cuts are now occurring in our country, but one hopes that governments resist the urge to cut any threads from the basic fabric of service, that of providing for public safety.

An excerpt.

“The collapse of U.S. financial markets is forcing deep cuts in local police agencies and stoking fears among police chiefs that mass home foreclosures are bringing more crime to suburbs.

“Problems created by the financial meltdown are starting to touch everything from police response times to unsolved crimes.

"As we see significant reductions, we'll be seeing increased response times, fewer cases solved and reduced services for victims of crime," says Prince William County, Va., Police Chief Charlie Deane. His $73 million budget could drop up to 30% next year because of declining property tax revenues.

“Blocks of homes vacant from foreclosures are becoming magnets nationwide for gang members, drug users, prostitutes and thieves, who steal appliances and fixtures, Deane and other officers say.

“At the same time, police agencies are dramatically reducing their forces as local governments struggle to allocate shrinking revenue from property and sales taxes to fund basic services.

"In this crisis, there are no good answers," says Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel, who is slashing 200 positions and may need to cut more.

“In a survey of 180 police chiefs released last week by the Police Executive Research Forum, 45% said the economy had affected their agency's "ability to reduce crime."