Friday, February 29, 2008

Police Recruitment: Too Little, Too Late

One of my favorite moments each week is sitting down at my favorite Indian restaurant, House of Curries on College Ave. in Berkeley to read J. Douglas Allen-Taylor's latest defense of Ron Dellums in the Daily Planet.

While I doubt Allen-Taylor is actually on the Dellums payroll in a financial sense, it's pretty obvious he's on the take in other ways--gaining increased access and increasing his social standing by unquestioningly coming to the mayor's defense.

I've held off on talking about Oakland's police recruiting debacle partly due to contracting this year's flu (not reommended) and due to a desire to see how things play out. Well, the results are largely in, and we're facing more of the same.

Allen-Taylor predictably lionizes the mayor's suggestion that we try and hire Oaklanders into the police force. I don't necessarily disagree with some of the arguments about why this would be a good thing were it possible. Sadly it is not possible.

As Allen-Taylor points out, Oakland does resemble a third-world country. But perhaps this is more the case than even he bargains for. Much like Cuba and other Banana Republics, Oakland is filled with the wealthy, the poor, and relatively little in between.

Now, I can hear you saying, why not simply bring the poor into the police force? Nothing would make me happier, but doing so is fraught with difficulty. Many of Oakland's poor are not just unlucky. They're poor for a reason--illiteracy, psychological problems, poor health, lack of willingness to work, past criminality, etc. Attempting to hire these people is a laudable goal. Hamstringing public policy by forcing their hiring is not.

Next, Allen-Taylor takes aim at OPD's policing strategies, essentially arguing that sweeping the streets for minor infractions, in the hopes of finding those with arrest warrants, amounts to racial profiling:
Whether or not the traffic sweeps amount to illegal racial profiling is a matter of opinion that has yet to be litigated. But there can be no doubt that they operate at distinct cross-purposes to the very population that the mayor and OPD now say they are interested in attracting into law enforcement.

My presumption, of course, would be that this commentary presages a Dellums decision to eliminate these traffic sweeps (given Allen-Taylor's obviously intimate relationship there), but this discussion points out an important issue which will persist even if we do hire more police.

Leftists view the courts as the ultimate remedy against a tyrannical police state. I don't necessarily disagree with this--certainly such remedy was warranted during the civil rights era. But in this day and age, courts are frequently employed to assail policies which offend only a tiny minority of the citizens, and those which violate only a truly tortured understanding of constitutional rights.
There is nothing wrong with a police officer pulling a person over for a minor infraction and investigating whether the driver or passengers have outstanding warrants. There is simply nothing wrong with doing this. And to anyone who reads the daily paper, it's pretty clear that doing so can only help decrease violence.

Doing so is also not racial profiling. And even if it was, who cares? It's not as if the wanted criminal the officer targets was planning to venture into a rich Asian neighborhood and commit violence there. All of the statistics prove that the losers here are those living in the impoverished community.

So, by crying "racism,"what the Leftist really does here is ensure more criminals remain the neighborhood, free to commit crimes against their neighbors.

What Oakland needs is very simple: A commitment to hire more police, wherever they come from, and a commitment to tough enforcement in violent neighborhoods. The vast majority of Oakland's citizens--rich and poor alike--would benefit from this common-sense approach.

1 comment:

  1. I must say, you are far too generous to JDAT (as he's known). Virtually everytime I read a piece of his I find myself saying "Against withering competition, that is by far the stupidest thing he's ever written." It's the gift that keeps on giving.

    Case in point: He claims that a policy of, uh, actually enforcing the law, which, by his lights, is a targeting of oppressed minorities, will work at 'cross purposes' to the goal of recruiting minority officers. So wait. Is he claiming that we stand the risk of alienating potential cops by pulling them over for driving cars that are mobile infractions of law? Is that our new candidate pool? People who can't keep their headlights and taillights working and yet drive around anyway? Is it that potential recruits will see this and somehow think worse of the occupying force, oops!, I mean the police? We're going to spoil the applicant pool by actually showing them what happens when you drive a car that is out of compliance with the law? And these are the people we want with guns and badges? What utter gibberish!

    And his innuendo that the matter hasn't been litigated would be laughable coming from an eleven year old. Lots of things don't get 'litigated' because there are no cases to litigate. Why? Because there's no legitimate grounds for litigation! I could say the same about my neighbor's house color: 'Well the legality of that particular color hasn't been litigated' (spoken with sufficient faux gravity and the kind of airs that children put on when trying to mimic adults). The Berkeley Daily Planet! Hahahahahahahahaha!