The Way It Was:
When I was a kid we knew certain policemen by name, because they were the policemen that patrolled your neighborhood. If you got into trouble in your neighborhood these were the guys who would come and see you. We also knew who the beat cops were; we called them flat foots. They walked the neighborhood, by foot and knew everyone. If a crime was committed, they were usually the first on the scene, or they might even be the first in pursuit. Police walking the beat deterred all, but the serious criminal from committing crimes.
It was a time when people were not afraid to leave their doors unlocked. It was a time when people said good day to their beat cop and he answered good day back and meant it. This was a time when criminals when caught by the police could say that the officer was just doing his job. No criminal ever liked police presence, but to the decent person police presence was about feeling safe and knowing that all day from one block to another through out the city a policeman was not far away.
Policemen could honestly say that they knew what was going on in the neighborhoods they patrolled.
The policemen were not afraid of the people they served back then, because they knew criminal and good guy both and could distinguishone from another. You did not see the buildings full of graffiti in the days of the beat cop. Back in the days of beat cops there was also a curfew for minor children. You would not see wandering bands of children getting into trouble. Children were challenged by police for proof of age after dark and sent home. Parents could be punished for not knowing where their children were, or if their children were not home by dark and were repeatedly caught out after dark.
This was a time when the streets were free of roving juvenile street gangs at least after dark. I am not saying that the streets were crime free, I am saying that the petty thefts like purse snatching and breaking entries were at a minimum, because chance of detection by the beat officer and the constant police patrols were greater than it is now. The streets were not turned into drag strips from light to light because not only were the flat foots out, but police patrolling in cars were a constant thing. Police actually patrolled in their cars in their neighborhoods. They did not sit in their stations until a crime was committed then rush to the scene. Nine times out of ten the patrolmen were on the scene in minutes and by time the detectives arrived at the scene the patrolmen or the beat cop were able to furnish them with the facts of the case. They could close down an area quickly, because there were beat cops and patrolling police cars in every area of the city.
The Way It Is:
There was an argument long ago about the better trained, or the highly trained cop verses the lower paid beat cop. The need to have less of the first because his superior understanding of how and why the crime was committed would result in more arrests and so be more of a deterrent than a police saturation. The police force would take a more scientific approach to fighting crime there by eliminating the need for the costly and time-consuming walking of beats and patrolling of streets. As you can see by the constant call by all levels of government in this country for stiffer sentences for juveniles this approach to policing our streets did not work.
The effects of this are easy enough to see. Police have allowed the youth gangs to get such a foothold that they are now as bad if not worse than the mafia and bike gangs. They have armed themselves with high-powered weapons and take to the business of crime like the children that they are. They have very few rules to their game and like children they change the rules as they see fit. Like children they think that they are invincible and so they keep pushing the envelope. They have the numbers and they know that the police are afraid of them.
There are no more polite rules that used to exist about a cop just doing his/her job, because this is not the case any longer. Police are out of step and out of time with what is going on in the communities they serve in. They go into areas when a crime is committed and rough up everyone that fits into a profile for instance if it is a black person they seek, then they badger and harass every black person in the neighborhood, because they haven’t got a clue as to who could be the culprits and where to look. This profiling angers the innocent and makes the police the enemy. Now everyone good person and criminal hates the police and respect for the police is gone. Police see the whole community as an enemy now and the killing starts. Police approach every situation with guns out, afraid of the very people they are paid to protect and the crime rate continues to soar.
Getting tough on children committing crimes of an adult will only result in wiser angrier well train killers when the child comes out of the system as a man. If the rule of law is to run the city again police need to get back into the streets and walk the beat and patrol the streets. The police need to stop waiting for a crime to happen then go charging in and making damn fools of them selves.
Who Suffers And Why?
Tagging is the language of the youth street gangs. The tags tell the street gangs life story and mark its’ borders and by the looks of things they control this whole city. I see tagging in the most affluent of neighborhoods which means that what you thought could never happen to you way out here is either happening , or is about to. The gangs that used to control small areas in bad neighborhoods are now spreading to every neighborhood in this city. The youth gangs are warring with the mafia and the bikers and holding their own pretty good. Would you have thought that possible a decade ago? If they make a deal with either of the two adult groups or both, which I think is about to happen, it will be all over for law and order in this city. You will not be able to create laws fast enough and even if you do you will be so badly out numbered and so badly out gunned that you will not be able to enforce them.
Have you tried to cross the street walking, or in your car. This is no easy undertaking any more because everyone seems to be in a rush and given the choice of maybe having an accident or waiting both parties now opt to go. Near misses happen by the minute and deaths due to cars hitting pedestrians in cross walks are on the rise.
As always the innocent are made to suffer. The elderly, school children, and women have become the targets to gang violence and thefts, in our metros on the streets and with home invasions on the rise we are not even safe in our homes. All because when the government makes a mistake it will not fix it. The unions will not allow it. What cop wants to walk when he/she can sit and get paid to do it?
The Way It Could Be:
You can make all the rules and laws you want but if the criminal knows you are too busy to enforce them he will always choose to break the law. If you get so far out of touch with your community that they regard you as the enemy the law has lost already. I do not think police work can be done totally from a desk. I think it is time to get into the streets and learn about the people in your precinct and interact with the people you wish to serve and protect. It is time for the police force to do more than rush in with strong-arm tactics when a crime occurs. We who you are supposed to be protecting are afraid of you and what you can do to us, but we have long ago ceased to respect you, or the job you are doing, as you have ceased to respect us. The trust can be rebuilt, but it will require you to get back on the beat and become policemen again not an invading army, little better than those you claim to be protecting us from.