Safety and you- and the rest of the story

Today the Dayton Daily News ran another article about the City Commission race. However, with their drop in readership, it’s not going to make much of a difference come election day. So far, the TV news has ignored the commission race in it’s entirety- with only a little coverage of the Mayoral.

There is more to my solutions for public safety than just beat responsibility and turning the academy into a profit center, but you’d hardly know from the article. I would take exception with the Chief’s response:

Esrati wants every neighborhood to have a dedicated police officer. Historic South Park, where he lives, shows that concept works.

Biehl said that partnership is successful because Miami Valley Hospital pays for the officer. “We’ve found, on a physiological level, one officer dedicated to a neighborhood promotes engagement and problem solving,” Biehl said. “Is there a private entity in all neighborhoods to underwrite the cost?”

Right there we have a fundamental flaw: that’s what we’re supposed to use our tax dollars for- before we go off and try to buy a neighborhood for Kroger (the Wayne and Wyoming debacle– with several million spent) or through giving grants to private corporations for promised jobs ($125K to BGH Studios).

Had we invested in police- a basic public service, year after year, our neighborhoods would be safer, your investments in homes would be worth more, and our community would be perceived differently.

The second part of our problem is our insistence on only hiring officers who’ve been through our academy. There are many police training academy’s- including one at Sinclair Community College. The cost to test, train and then graduate a small percentage of those officers is a very expensive process.

It’s time to either turn the academy over to Sinclair, run it as a regional training facility, or shut it down and sub-contract the training to Sinclair. In fact, if what Chief Biehl says in today’s paper is correct:

The city will be hard pressed to hold a recruit exam by summer 2010, Biehl said. On average, two sworn officers retire monthly. Biehl estimates it will take 16 months to schedule an exam, then move officers through six months of training. That could leave the department with 32 fewer officers before new recruits are on the job…

“We could go below the 350 (sworn officer) mark by January 2011,” Biehl said. “That could put us at our lowest staffing level in a decade.”…

“Most police departments are looking to send people out the door. I don’t mean retirement. I mean layoff,” Biehl said.

the obvious answer is to start hiring the officers that are laid off in other communities, like Trotwood. These are trained officers, saving us probably $100,000 + per trainee in training costs, and could well help us start solving our minority hiring disability that has plagued this department for years.

Why the taxpayers of Dayton are forced to pay recruits and for their training, when other departments hire people who’ve paid their own way is beyond me. Maybe, if we did it like everyone else- we could also pay our officers more (right now Kettering officers make at least $10k more a year).

Dayton has been doing things the same way and expecting a different result for too long. It’s time to discuss real solutions, like changing our standard operating procedure, if we want to see real change.

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