Scott Henson’s ‘Grits for Breakfast’ suggested it may be time to reduce the number of cos in light of falling crime rates. Here is his snippet from Thursday’s GFB:
Justifying more police in an era of declining crime
Recently, the Washington Post pointed out that, despite crime plummeting in the last three decades, the number of police has not declined, wondering aloud, as if for the first time, whether they should. So it’s in that context that Grits reads the Houston Chronicle headline, “As crime drops, police chief says HPD needs thousands more on the force.” This is preventive excuse making. If crime goes down, Chief Acevedo will surely take credit. But if it goes up, he will say it’s because he didn’t get his officers, even though the number of index-crimes-per-officer is near its 30-year nadir.
Let’s get real. The police can do little about reducing crime other than catching crooks and making sure they are kept locked up. A criminal in jail is one less criminal on the streets.
By having a heavy patrol presence in high crime areas, the police may be able to reduce burglaries and gangbanger shootings somewhat. Most other crime, especially assaults and murders not related to gangs, cannot really be prevented by the police.
‘Broken Windows’ and stop-and-frisk operations by the police in New York did reduce crime, but because those operations impacted minority communities disproportionately, they are now verboten.
So the crime rate is going to go up and down regardless of a police presence.
And Scott is right about Acevedo ….. If the crime rate goes down he’ll brag about what a wonderful job HPD is doing and if it goes up he’ll say it’s because he doesn’t have enough cops.
Having said that though, Acevedo is right about needing more cops. With a growing population and countless requests for police services, HPD does not have enough cops to answer even some reported felonies. Asking for 1,000 more cops is not unreasonable for the city of Houston.
The bottom line is that crime rates should not determine the number of cops on the force! The ability to respond to all calls in a timely manner should determine Houston’s or any other city’s police manpower needs.