Cash-strapped police using civilians for responding to 911 calls... - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Cash-strapped police using civilians for responding to 911 calls...

Departments under budget burdens hire outside help

Facing tighter budgets, law enforcement agencies across the country are increasingly turning to civilians to respond to some calls that sworn officers and deputies are usually responsible for.

That means people calling 911 to report a traffic accident, a burglarized home or a stolen car may be greeted by a civilian in a polo shirt instead of a gun-toting officer.

"It hasn't been universally adopted throughout the country. But most areas have at least thought about the alternative and are more open to it now because of the economy," said Richard Brady, president of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Matrix Consulting Group that has worked with more than 250 law enforcement agencies.

The idea of using civilians, who require less training and are less expensive than sworn officers, to respond to minor police calls has been around since the late 1980s.

Brady said the practice died off for years as the economy improved and departments were augmented after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

As the economy slows again and state and local governments face major cuts, many have turned back to the old practice. Among them:

•The Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office plans to hire 18 civilian "field service officers" in the coming months.

•The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department hopes to add a dozen civilian report takers.

•The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will resume hiring for its civilian officer program this summer, hoping to add five.

Civilians have long been used to handle tasks such as dispatching and other administrative duties in the office — but sending them into the field for even routine calls that have little chance of becoming dangerous has been a contentious issue.

Lynne Jantz, director of selection for the Las Vegas police department, said civilians working for the police don't respond to accidents where alcohol or injuries are involved.

Since the unit was created in 2003, Jantz said, no civilian officers have been injured.

"Maybe a paper cut," she said.

Capt. Mark Strobridge, who oversees Orange County's implementation of the civilian program, said civilians will be deployed only during daylight hours and will not work in high-crime areas.

The benefit, according to Jantz and Strobridge, is that civilians can free up sworn officers from filling out mundane reports to concentrate on higher-priority crimes. The civilians concentrate on property damage, lost and stolen property and other things that require a police report for insurance purposes but don't require a sworn officer.

The civilians also come much cheaper. In Las Vegas, a sworn officer who has cleared his initial probation period makes at least $54,000. Starting salary for civilian responders is $32,000.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said civilians have worked well in some administrative office duties, but there's a "bright line" between what civilians can do and what sworn officers carrying guns can do.

Pasco said that even the most simple-looking traffic accident can escalate into road rage or worse, putting the civilian officer in danger.

"If it's a routine fender bender, there is no way of knowing whether the person involved is (fleeing) from a bank robbery or a drug deal or just taking the kids home," he said.

When any basic investigation is required, Pasco said, civilians are far more likely to make mistakes that can help accused criminals escape a conviction. In Orange County, sworn officers receive 10 months of training, compared with three months for civilians.

"There's a tremendous potential for a gap, and that gap will be filled by a defense attorney," Pasco said. "You get what you pay for."

USATODAY.com
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 08:57 AM
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I don't see too big an issue with this as long at they are properly trained. Traffic accident reports suck and most of them don't need an officer on scene.

Obviously severe accidents need recontructionists etc. but the day to day fender benders do not.

Too with burglaries, as long as proper evidence is gathered(again training comes to mind), after the fact report taking is a non-issue as well.

Do this bother you Robert?

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BadBenz94 View Post
I don't see too big an issue with this as long at they are properly trained. Traffic accident reports suck and most of them don't need an officer on scene.

Obviously severe accidents need recontructionists etc. but the day to day fender benders do not.

Too with burglaries, as long as proper evidence is gathered(again training comes to mind), after the fact report taking is a non-issue as well.

Do this bother you Robert?
The mundane work of Police offices in the whole western world is going down the out- source road , and as you say Bad Benz 'what's the problem?' after all the Police are there for the civilians so why not dip in when you can and help , I think you'll find it's just another of the thousand of threads of drip drip- pick pick try and show the USA in a bad light …..boring.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BadBenz94 View Post
I don't see too big an issue with this as long at they are properly trained. Traffic accident reports suck and most of them don't need an officer on scene.

Obviously severe accidents need recontructionists etc. but the day to day fender benders do not.

Too with burglaries, as long as proper evidence is gathered(again training comes to mind), after the fact report taking is a non-issue as well.

Do this bother you Robert?
No, does not bother me at all, but look past the civilians doing the work of the police, look at why they are doing it........Just another point in what is happening in the Cities and States of the US, they cannot even afford to protect the citizens of the cities and counties due to the financial meltdown in the US.

No, it does not bother me but it should bother you.........
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 04:57 PM
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The mundane work of Police offices in the whole western world is going down the out- source road , and as you say Bad Benz 'what's the problem?' after all the Police are there for the civilians so why not dip in when you can and help , I think you'll find it's just another of the thousand of threads of drip drip- pick pick try and show the USA in a bad light …..boring.

I do "dip in and help" as we do not "outsource" our work, and I don't mind it at all as that is what I am paid to do. I was just saying I can see this as a benefit to everyone in the larger cities where there tends to be more crime per capita per police officer than the smaller metropolis.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 05:19 PM
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These "civilians" had plenty of practice in East Timor.
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