Thursday April 24, 2014
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First of all, let me say that there is no way I can thank DPS Officer Seth Meeske, his fellow officers, and all police officers everywhere for what they do every day. Nor can I add anything to what has already been said about his heroism and his incredible self-control, or to the wishes we all share for a swift and complete recovery.
Thanks, Seth, and God bless you!
But I am going to repeat something here, something I have said over and over again for years. It is improper and unfair to send solitary police officers out in patrol cars. They should work in pairs as they did when I was a young man.
Had Seth Meeske been one of a pair of officers it is unlikely in the extreme that the criminal he encountered would have dared to fire upon him. He would have known that there was no way he could take down two alert officers. And so this entire incident might have been avoided. Both the felon and the police officer might have come out of it alive and unharmed.
It is close to criminal to expect a police officer to walk up to a car during a stop without someone to back him up. Doing so is placing himself in a position where exactly what happened to officer Meeske can — and far too often does — happen.
If it costs more to put two police officers in each car, or if it means there will be fewer cars on patrol, then so be it. But in times like these, when so many officers have lose their lives or been seriously injured along some road during a routine stop, it is time for us to think and act. If the legislature won't do it, then we need to do it with an initiative. One way or the other, it must be done.
Once again, thank you Seth. Let's hope that what happened to you finally makes people think, and long last spurs action that leads to a return of sanity in staffing our patrol cars.
It is all about $$$$$$$. Simple as that.
I have a friend up here who is still working for the Gila County Sheriff's Office. I filled out all the necessary paperwork so I could do "ride alongs" with him as I felt it would be an asset to simply have another person present if he got into a dicey situation. With 45 minute backup times for these folks when they are in some of the more remote areas, pretty much means no backup at all. Even with that, I fully appreciate the costs that come with living in rural America. No one wants to shoulder the costs in taxes that would be necessary to provide some of the levels of service and infrastructure that are commonly available in the larger metropolitan areas. I think that's simply the reality of the situation you brought up. And I know Seth Meeske personally. Have hunted with him and his dad, Ernie. Both are acutely aware of the potential in their career calling. Makes what they do that much more admirable in my eyes.
Thanks for that info, Ron.
When you see Seth and his Dad please tell them how much me appreciate all the things that they have done for us.
As to costs, I know it would cost more to put two men in a car, but I think that it is something that just has to be done, at least at certain times of day and in certain situations. And I, personally, would be willing to bear the extra the cost, whatever it may be.
You make a good point, of course, about the difference in living in a large town and living in a rural area. It's a point well taken. But you know what it reminds me of? I have read a lot about WWII from the German viewpoint, and one thing that made me think was how they often puzzled over how we did things in Europe. They could not understand why we had a habit of sending more men into the best defended areas, such as on some of the beaches on D-Day. Their method was just the reverse; they attacked at the weakest points — and I guess they did pretty well.
I think maybe we should apply some of that thinking when we allot money for law enforcement, realizing that the areas that are largest require a greater coverage per mile than those which are more compact. But no one will ever do it, I guess. The stats will always show that the crime rate is lower, and so on....
Probably not an argument you can win.
There's a lot of those.
It has been my experience that one can have the best of motives, the best data, and the best solution to a problem, but getting a consensus from everyone affected that such an approach is the way to go, is nigh on to impossible. A great example is the current issues with the PSWID.
I think I mentioned it on another thread, but when the Public Safety Services (Police and Fire) were in the process of unionizing, many of us that felt such a move would eventually lead to actually harming those we had sworn to serve, we were unable to make them see reality. Now California and many states who did likewise, are bordering on bankruptcy and the gap between those "serving " and those 'served" had grown out of all rational proportion.. It just seemed so obvious to us, but I sense that greed/power took hold and we lost the argument.
That we have been vindicated via the current circumstances doesn't make what happened any more palatable. "You can lead a horse to water........".
Thinking about the danger of bankruptcy I finally realized what's driving all this.
• First there was the Depression. There was no way to ignore the needs of people who were willing to work but could not find work. We went into debt, not far, but enough to lessen the dangers of mass starvation.
• Then came WWII. We had to win; there was no other choice. So we went into debt.
But after those two crises passed we were left with a system that was accustomed to deficit financing, and the game changed to:
Giveaway programs for the poor to get votes.
Giveaway programs for the rich to get votes.
Second generation giveaway programs for the poor so they would support second generation giveaway programs for the rich.
Second generation giveaway programs for the rich so they would support second generation giveaway programs for the poor.
An example of 3? Obamacare. Obama was out to create a national health system, but knew he couldn't do it, so in order to get some votes from the other side of the aisle he made it an "insurance" program, thereby throwing money at corporate America, which is the only winner in that mess.
An example of 4? George Bush wanted to turn public education over to business, so he created NCLB with the help of Ted Kennedy, both of them knowing full well that in the long run if the program simply does what it says it does all schools except those for special ed will be private schools.
That's the way it works.
It's no longer a question of what's right; it's a question of "how much for me?"
I'm having a hard time putting this issue out of my mind. It's not a like a lot of issues that have arisen over the years, not at all. I keep picturing one of our own being shot down in cold blood as he does his duty on a darkened road. That image just won't fade.
From a practical viewpoint isn't there anything we can do to make those nighttime patrols a little safer? Would ride-along civilians be any help? Would we just be placing civilians in a dangerous situation? Could they be armed? Would the police officers themselves want something like that? What would it cost to change the policy in general so that, at least at night, no one is patrolling alone? Is there anything, anything at all, that could be done? Is there some kind of movement working on this? How does the legislature view it? How about ADOT? Are there any studies? What do they show? How does a street cop like Don look at it?
All I have is questions. Maybe someone has some answers. Whatever the truth is, I think we owe it to people like Seth Meeske to keep the question alive until we have done our best to prod someone into doing something, even if the something is taking a serious look at the question and deciding that "nothing" can be done! But just shaking our heads and saying we wish it hadn't happened is not a solution.
Your concerns are very legitimate. Rural environments are markedly different than suburbia or metropolitan environments. Large areas sparsely populated when compared to cities and the like. A lot of our less social folks actually seek out these types of areas as they are not so much anti-social, but simply want nothing to do with what they view as an "overbearing and intrusive government". Law enforcement represents that "government" to folks inclined to that viewpoint. If you've experienced it, you will know what I am speaking of. It's these potentials that have always been my concern as regards our public safety personnel that are charged with covering those large geographical areas, some very remote and isolated. Often, radio communications in these areas are less than optimal.
Certainly more personnel would change the risk equation, whether it be another sworn officer or a properly "deputized" civilian. As I said before, it really is all about costs. Even if you had volunteers that went along as "ride a longs" there is still the financial liability for the agency towards those individuals should the worst case scenario play out. When I did my ride a longs, even though I had a CCW permit and was often "carrying", I would/did not have inject myself into the official activities of those I was with. Was simply there as an observer Had things gotten dicey, I would have had to make a judgment call as to what my response would have been. I discussed this with those I rode with and we had a mutual understanding of just what my presence in the vehicle was limited to.
Not sure how we can improve the situation, especially during the night hours where darkness always adds to the additional risks. I have several close friends that are/were DPS officers and I sense that if any changes in the current staffing model are to change for safety reasons, the best people to press that case are those that represent these public servants. But it will take a supportive public behind them to get beyond the fiscal impacts that the elected officials that are responsible for the budget, will be looking at. It's doable if enough people support such a move. Know this, it won't be cheap, and someone has to be willing to put their money where their wants are.
"A lot of our less social folks actually seek out these types of areas as they are not so much anti-social, but simply want nothing to do with what they view as an "overbearing and intrusive government". Law enforcement represents that "government" to folks inclined to that viewpoint. If you've experienced it, you will know what I am speaking of."
I have experienced it, and — like you, I think — I fully understand why they feel that way. I do not condone violence, but I can see why some people feel driven to get away from the cities and the controls, and can eventually get pushed into violence. Without getting hung up on the right and wrong of it all, you are dead right when you point out that you can get yourself into a lot of trouble by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I like the "ride along" idea as a possible start of support for more involvement. Obviously, we can't, and don't want to, do anything that law enforcement people would find more trouble than it was worth, but it just might be a place to begin getting people involved, and begin letting everyone know how scary it can be out there.
Maybe we could start small, do it as a local thing, set an example (if it worked). I was on the Payson PD site a while back and saw that they had a process for ride alongs. What if the program was used more than it is, and also had greater publicity? Suppose there were some regular way for people who went on a ride along to comment on it somewhere that might get attention?
Just thinking. Sure would like to see start somewhere.
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