Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The police need a plan too...

Image by James Burns Design.

I am not sure what to make of Councilman David Catania's initiative to create a Mayor-Union commission to analyze the DC police department's staffing issues. See Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe's column, "D.C. cop "emergency" commission doomed to fail."

This came about because the force is shrinking--the normal loss of officers is about 150 officers/year and for whatever reason, the police department stopped recruiting and training new officers. People seem to be shocked that with normal attrition and a failure to recruit and train new officers, the department is shrinking.

Uh, it seems pretty obvious what they should do. But I am not sure the Mayor or the Union is up to picking the right people to figure out what to do.

For one, even though Jaffe (and most other journalists) always get quotes from the Fraternal Order of Police Union chair Kristopher Baumann as a credible source, I find it odd that these days, when unions are demonized for being self-interested, that somehow, police officer unions seem to get a free pass on the question of self-interest.

As we planners say, there ought to be a plan. Does the police department have one? I imagine the union solution will be a lot more pay, better pensions, earlier retirement (and hey I agree that they police officers do have difficult jobs). But I don't see how that solves the fact that the department hasn't been doing recruiting and training a class of new officers each year.

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