Old school ways vs the new way- are we better off?

This is not an indictment of Officers Simmons or Stimmel, but a question of our methodology today, vs the methodology of days gone by.

I was struck by the honesty of this “exit interview” in the paper today. Two of Dayton’s finest from the “Good old day” generation are retiring. In it- they mention the “old school way”

After 33 years, Dayton cops retire together
The ‘old school’ way

“We were tutored under the ‘old school’ officers,” Simmons said. “That’s where you learned ‘street justice,’ that not everybody had to go to jail. But back in that day people had respect for officers. If they did wrong, you took care of business whatever way you had to.”

Cruiser cameras and microphones, although beneficial in a number of ways, have changed things, the officers said.

“You got to worry about every word you say, everything you do,” Stimmel said. “Back then if somebody swung at you they deserved to be hit. Now (younger officers) don’t know what to do.

“If somebody back then would swear at you, you’d swear back because that’s the only language they knew. Now you got that microphone on, you can’t say things, you gotta watch what you say. People spit at you and do these things and you got to put up with that stuff.

I entered the Army at about the time new rules went into place where drill sergeants could no longer swear at or touch recruits- it was a major change. The Army had gone “professional” and we were seeing the last of the “go in the service or go to jail” type recruits.

About the same time, the Dayton Police academy was still teaching recruits that it was OK to “knock some sense” into scumbags on the street. You didn’t taser someone, you hit them with your flashlight, you had gloves with lead shot in them, a sap, or the perp would “fall down” a lot while in handcuffs.

We didn’t have near as many people in jail or prison, the crooks didn’t have better firepower than the cops, and there were no mandatory sentencing guidelines. Dayton had at least 50,000 more residents, and yet the perception was about the same- it wasn’t a safe place compared to the ‘burbs.

We have no way of knowing if “street justice” was applied equally to blacks or whites, but, I’m pretty sure the perpetual offenders were treated equally bad, black or white. I’m also sure the punks from wealthy families got a break in the beating, but, their parents were made aware that they wouldn’t sweep things under the table more than a few times- get your kids inline- or face public embarrasment.

If there has been one thing that’s changed, it’s that a rap sheet is no longer a scarlet letter on the streets, it’s a prerequisite for power, a requirement on a CV for those who aspire to be “gangstas”- our prisons are a proving ground, not a rehabilitation system. Our system is overflowing with punks who have no problem spitting- slapping- or shooting a cop. Remember Dayton Police Officer and mother, Mary Beall, who thought that by putting down her gun, she could stop a punk with a gun from ending up dead? Mary was new school, and you saw the result.

I’m not condoning handing cops back a can of whup-ass as standard equipment, but I am asking, have we really made progress? Is it better for a young punk to get a beating that his Daddy should have given him from a cop, so that maybe, he doesn’t end up in prison getting hardened for a life on a much tougher street?

Simmons and Stimmel were just pieces of a machine, the question is- did we really make progress when we dismantled that machine and replaced it with what we have now?

I’d love to see Chief Biehl weigh in on this- or Sheriff Vore, who both have experience that spans this transition.

Your thoughts?

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3 Responses

  1. tg June 8, 2008 / 9:36 pm
    Makes me think of kindergarten & first grade at Patterson Kenney school – back in the days when teachers were still allowed (and encouraged) to paddle you if you got in trouble.

    We had three first grade classes, if you got in trouble you were spanked in front of each class and again back in your home room. It had an impact on me, I was never going to do anything to cause me to suffer that humiliation.

    I went to Holy Angels from 2nd through 8th grade, then on to Alter HS. I graduated with one demerit and to this day, I’m irritated about it because I believe my homeroom teacher misinterpreted the dress code (it couldn’t possibly have been my misinterpretation). My counselor during junior year agreed it was bogus and removed it from my record, only to have it reappear by graduation.

    As an adult, I realize now I didn’t have enough fun or didn’t take enough chances. As a kid growing up, I didn’t want to have to deal with the embarrassment of a demerit, or a spanking or a detention…let alone a suspension or (gasp) being expelled.

    My friends from grade school often talk about the rules were you didn’t do anything to bring shame to your family. We wonder what happened to that mindset?

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  2. TeresaLea June 15, 2008 / 7:55 pm
    I understand your reasoning, but it sounds too much like the “all the bad things that happened when they took the prayer out of schools” argument.

    School violence went up, crime went up, teen pregnancy went up – ok sure it did, but did it really have anything to do with prayer in school?

    Absolutely not.

    In my opinion, high crime rates and full prisons have more to do with an apathetic society that doesn’t give a damn about the kid next door and their family. We cared about what other people thought, when other people were paying attention.

    Violence, indifference, greed, fear, and the apathetic mindset of our society are responsible for the creation of prisons with revolving doors. Heavy fists of the law only perpetuate the cycle of hate, disrespect and violence.

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  3. David Esrati June 15, 2008 / 8:42 pm

    I say we can blame a lot of it on TV. When people stopped visiting with their neighbors- and started hanging out with the Bunkers, the Jeffersons, the Cosbys, the Bradys, the Partridge family etc.
    We started believing that CSI was real, and that Ponch and Jon always got their man.
    Then again- Tipper Gore said it was Rap music.

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