If this retired police captain had a magic wand
Roughly 240 million 911 calls are logged every year in America. Five percent of those calls concern violent crime. Cops and firefighters are busy 365 days a year, making communities a safe place for residents and workers.
The best source for analyzing crime, in general, is not through the courts, lawyers, and prisons. No one is closer to such problems as is your local cop. It is he/she who responds to millions of calls for police service every year, from rescuing accident victims to surviving urban riots where everyone is at risk. They remain under the microscope.
As a 30-year cop in Miami-Dade, Florida, with experience in various phases of law enforcement, I’ve seen my fair share of criminal conduct and the systems that have operated to deal with criminal behavior.
If I had the magic wand, I would …
- Appoint a joint committee made up of legal, social, and law enforcement personnel, to redesign drug laws that would put more emphasis on control, treatment, and mental health, rather than banishing users into prison cells for decades.
- Establish a method by which we could identify people who suffer from psychotic issues and re-establish long-needed sanitarium facilities where mental health personnel treat the mentally ill — before committing a crime, not after. Recent studies reveal that 20% of prison inmates in state penal systems suffer from some form of advanced mental illness.
- Decriminalize prostitution and establish laws that protect consumers. This would legitimize, sanitize and control such unenforceable ‘crimes’ that have been in the service business for centuries.
- Reduce jail and prison populations by invoking the European model which hands out shorter sentences while converting those cost savings into funding for treatment, training and education.
- Help released prisoners re-adapt to society after being incarcerated for many years. Such inmates often return to society with no support system or opportunities to survive with criminal records. This often results in choice recidivism, i.e. convicts committing crimes in order to return to prison.
- Abolish capital punishment. Studies reveal that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. It is an outrageous cost to taxpayers, far more than standard incarceration. Meanwhile, the risks of executing innocents, though rare, are far too great. One is too many. The state should not be in the business of killing another human being.
- Let judges judge by doing away with minimum-mandatory sentencing. Laws often require a predetermined number of years for inmates to serve in prison if found guilty of a felony regardless of circumstance. Prosecutors use these laws by negotiating sentences to secure a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence. Thus, many judges are stripped from exercising judicial discretion.
- Why reinvent the wheel? We should focus on communities that have succeeded in lowering crime rates. “Stop-and-frisk” policies were highly productive in New York City in the 1990s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. All citizens, black, white and purple, benefited greatly.
- The claim that systemic racism runs rampant among police personnel is untrue. It had been true in past years. I know, I’ve been there. Some cops will occasionally be held to task for misbehavior in the heat of the moment. That does not make it “systemic.” We need to support brave men and women in uniform, or we’ll find ourselves unable to fill vacant positions. Good cops will seek other jobs. The ultimate winners: Criminals. The losers: Citizens.
- Citizens should oust public figures who lobby for defunding of police. It reveals other goals they have in mind which is clearly political. I firmly believe the enemies of America have been stirring hatred and sowing the seeds of chaos in order to destroy our democratic republic. The riots throughout America in 2020 and 2021 have shown this to be true. As career cops leave the profession, criminals are in wait.
We must keep politics out of law enforcement.
Marshall Frank is a retired police captain and author of 15 books.