The Oracle of Solace:
John Cole invited folks to write something about our preferred legislative priorities, so here’s mine.
As a kid I believed that Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) were alien visitors. So many enigmatic tales of strange encounters in remote places, so little actual evidence. I figured that if everybody had a camera, then at some point we’d have enough evidence to prove that UFOs were real, and that alien visitation was really happening.
Now I’m an adult, and every smartphone has a camera, but instead of proving the existence of UFOs, in the Trump years those cameras have proven that Officer Friendly isn’t.
Of all the various priorities that the incoming Biden Administration will have to face, redefining policing will be one of the most important. For the first time in American history, we have a major political party composed of communities targeted by, and allies ideologically opposed to, systemic racism.
It is absolutely critical that police forces, now widely perceived as serving only the social interests of racial and/or economically privileged communities while violently suppressing all others, be rebuilt as police services that can earn the trust of all the communities under their protection. This is a heavy lift, but it can be done.
This is going to take a lot of federal money, and will face a lot of institutional resistance. Smarter people than me will likely work out solutions, and I will be happy to hear them. From my inexpert (and probably ignorant) perspective we can probably start by addressing what the police themselves don’t like doing.
For example, police are routinely called to deal with situations for which the police have little training, and about which the police themselves complain. The federal government could provide funds to localities for the creation of mental-health response units, domestic counseling services, even expanded animal control units with the goal of taking those duties off the police blotter.
What we know is that we cannot expect policing to continue as it currently exists if we want to deal with the injustices we see in policing. Let’s look forward to new visions, and to a better America.
Thanks so much for submitting your essay! (WG)
Camden New Jersey did it. It’s time to ask Cory Booker if he had any involvement and can tell us how it worked out for them.
A small step, maybe, but they’re upgrading the body cameras here. They will be automatically activated, preventing those “oops, I forgot to turn the camera on” moments. The quality of the video will also be a lot better.
I am loving this guest post series. Nothing to add to this particular one other than “I agree”.
Me too. You people are smart.
I have a friend who runs a self-defense nonprofit organization. They do a lot of training with social workers who often find themselves in dangerous situations. I would be concerned if they had to answer calls alone and unprotected.
The City of Austin tried to divert funding from the cops to mental health and social services, and Texas Republicans from Abbott down to the Podunk County Commissioners lost their shit and vowed to retaliate. This is a heavy lift.
Yep. Every word of this.
Of course the Obama administration had wanted to make a start on this, so I hope Biden will include it as one of his (many) priorities. I’m so weary of the same crap, over and over and over, and no reckoning harsher than a slapped hand ever seems to come.
If it can work in Camden, it can work anywhere.
J R in WV
Perhaps the police should be working for social services, along with EMTs, Fire Depts, and actual Social workers. If cops had to answer to a Social Worker management with a PhD in managing nut jobs they would quickly realize lying to a professional trained to see fabrication and deal with it is a stupid move.
Plus bodycams that really work well…
I’ve had several very positive encounters with police in the past few years, after accidents, being pulled over because a temp license didn’t show through a tinted rear window, etc. But we’re old white folks. I want everyone to feel good about help arriving at a scene.
That’s how it should be.
The cops should know they’re on camera, and act as if that matters!!
There are two problems with police.
The first problem is that they are unaccountable. Some of the unaccountability is formal and structural. Some of it is informal and traditional. While any of the unaccountability remains in place, nothing can be accomplished. And any progress will depend upon 100% turnover in personnel because once an individual has internalized their unaccountability, they can never be stood down. This is what is meant by the “bad apple” metaphor. No one remembers the second half of that proverb, short though it is! — “One rotten apple spoils the barrel”. In other words, if there are bad apples, then axiomatically there are no good apples.
The second problem is that only a handful of people understand the purpose or the effect of accountability. Everyone else — including a very heavy majority of Democratic voters — actually believes that accountable police would not be able to do their jobs. Now a small part of this is a deliberately, sadistically skewed notion of what their job is; but the misapprehension that police must be unaccountable in order to function applies across the board. It is of course a cataclysmic failure of education, but by the same token, it cannot be quickly reversed.
UFOs aren’t aliens from other planets. That’s impossible.
Rather, it’s future humanity visiting us.
A friend of mine from high school spent 30 years as a cop in Denver, he hated getting domestic dispute calls. He said one night he and his partner got a hold of a guy who was beating the shit out of his wife, they wrestled him to the floor to cuff him. The wife, bleeding from her banged-up face grabbed a cast iron frying pan and started pounding on the cop’s backs screaming, let him go, let him go.
The military handles this quite well. One of the core problems is that police misconduct is prosecuted within the civilian justice system and prosecutors and judges who depend on future cooperation of police officers are tasked with prosecution. Acerbating the problem is juries believing cops or seeing them as “special”.
They need military commissions to judge them and there would be a nifty shortcut to implement this: Every police department that bought or accepted military equipment is automatically enrolled in military grade disciplinary courts.
If the feds pay for mental and social service responses, the police can respond to fewer calls so their funding can be reduced accordingly
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
Ah Republicans. All for “limited government” and local control except when metro areas want to help people:
State GOP: “States and local governments are the best judges of what the people want.”
Localities: *Raises minimum wage for workers in their areas*
State GOP: “Not like that!”
@Arclite: I see you’ve bought into the misinformation spread by agents of the Vril-ya.
Obligatory XKCD (at least for the UFOs part).
Has any city proposed putting out-of-court-settlement funds into a special pool and paying officer overtime / bonuses out of that pool? The more the city has to pay in settlements, the less money there is for overtime / bonuses. There’s no reason cities should pay for brutality case settlements out of their general funds.
Love this cartoon. It humorously points out a truth about UFOs.
Personal cameras have also documented instances of racism and other atrocious actions, bringing it to the attention of people who wanted to deny or minimize it.
Un-Friendly Officers are real!
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):
Part of the problem is the rest of the state’s perception of Austin as a vile nest of Commies, hippies, and assorted other undesirables who need hangin.’ If it had been, say, Lubbock or Tyler, there might have been a bit more willingness to see how it would play out.
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
To be fair, if aliens are advanced enough to travel hundreds or thousands of light years to Earth to observe us, wouldn’t they also be able to hide from us too? Of course, absence of evidence isn’t evidence. But it makes for good fiction ?
Mike in NC
Was multitasking yesterday and missed a lot of the inauguration coverage on TV. I just read “The Hill We Climb” by poet Amanda Gorman. It left me stunned and sobbing.
Thank you for this. I was thinking about writing an essay saying that we need to establish a Third Reconstruction, working towards making America truly equal. Completely changing police culture is a massive part of that, and it seems like an impossibly heavy lift, but it must be done. I couldn’t put my idea together in time, but you have nailed it.
I benefited from this effect to a major degree. My Hispanic teen housemate had a very rough couple of years when he was 15-16, for many reasons, and had a number of interactions with the OC Sheriffs. Because he lives with an old white lady who can quote Miranda rights in an area where housing is very, very expensive, they brought him home a bunch of times instead of putting him into the system. I appreciate it personally, but all kids should have the same treatment.
The sheriff here is a nightmare, as have been most of his predecessors, here is a typical tweet:
He has resisted any civilian oversight and refuses to enforce mask wearing during the pandemic. Once I can go out again, I plan to get involved in a local group pushing back, if there are any.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):
@Arclite: Dunno how serious you’re being, but I’d say interstellar travel (using atomic-powered robots rather than organic beings) is far more likely to be possible than time travel. Still vanishingly low chance of it ever happening.
I like this general idea, but what I think would make at least as much sense would be to have a broader “public safety” department. It would subsume the current police and fire departments but would also include the kind of social workers, domestic violence specialists, and whatnot that we’re hoping to add. There would no longer be “police” per se; they would be public safety officers who specialized in law enforcement. Everyone in public safety would be required to cross train in other specialties, and it would be as normal to transfer from law enforcement to social work as it currently is to transfer from narcotics squad to major crimes unit.
@Mike in NC: Seeing her read her poem is riveting. That and Lady Gaga’s Star Spangled Banner left me choked up and made me feeling the same in much of the televised celebration. There were more emotional moments than just okay moments. Made me feel we’ll be enjoying a focused and highly competent administration.
I confess, I know of Lubbock only as the hometown of Buddy Holly and Bobby Keys. What’s it like?
@Mike in NC: Dude! You have to watch it.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Dan B: I had no idea Gaga had real pipes
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):
Why would they want to hide from us? Why would they give a shit?
Yeah, I know that SF has come up with the benign “non-interference” thing used in Star Trek.
But I like to imagine some bored alien teens who steal the family space hopper and buzz Earth for shits and giggles. They land smack in the middle of a Super Bowl half time show, do some space wheelies, moon (or the alien equivalent) the audience, honk their horn and head for home, after taking selfies with the Kardashians.
You might be interested in YouTuber Adam Neely’s musical analysis of her performance.
Another great essay. A lot of very good ideas about reforming police forces.
Of course, part of the problem here is not the police force.
It is the problem of people and communities who expect the police to do their dirty work for them.
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
In that respect, every single major population center is like that in every red state. It’s really frustrating living in a state that by all accounts should be more purple than red. Ohio is stupidly trying to prop up fissile fuel energy companies like First Energy and eliminate renewable energy. It’s maddening. Yet they’ll tout something like Lordstown Motors (electric trucks) as an example of economic growth
So glad I can laugh at JL Cauvin again.
Booker was mayor of Newark, NJ. He had nothing to do with the mess in Camden, which after many years of fits and starts seems to be getting better.
Also, Gov. Christie’s move to dissolve the city’s police force and replace with a county police force was a form of union busting.
The estate of a Mister Douglas Adams would like a word with you sir.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka):
I hate the “absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” claim; it’s flatly untrue. Absence of evidence certainly isn’t conclusive proof of anything, but it is still evidence. The harder people have looked for something without finding it, the less likely it is that thing exists, or at least that it exists in a form that the searches would be capable of finding.
I can’t think of anything that would benefit from sending more money to police. We need less of things to happen, not more.
Police departments and cities can solve this on their own, but they need a motivation to do it. I would extend the federal hate crime and discrimination laws to cover policing policies and outcomes. Hold officers liable for discriminatory actions and hold agencies liable for discriminatory policies. That should also extend to fines and citations – no more funding your entire city by issuing warrants against poor residents.
Variations on a theme.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
She’s also a fine pianist. You should see some of her performances where it’s just her and a piano. She may love the theatrics and all the tricks they can pull in a studio, but she’s doesn’t actually need that stuff to put on a hell of a show.
OT: in an apparent sign of unity, GA’s 3-Named Witch filed an article of impeachment against Biden. For what…..Im not sure. Im sure she’ll file another one tomorrow.
@Dan B: My friend mentored at the WriteGirl program in LA. It was before Amanda was there but still!
@Mary G: Yeah, I don’t know what to do here. We’ve made some progress with city police here through community engagement, but I haven’t seen any real progress with the county.
@Punchy: I think for illegally assuming the office of the President because in her world Trump won the election.
I watched a video where some U.S. city did something similar to deal with their opiod crisis. They sent a professional (social worker who specialized in addiction, maybe?) along with police to talk with any non-violent addicts who would otherwise be arrested for drug possession & use. They gave these people the choice to go to rehab instead of jail. The rehab didn’t work for everyone (and some didn’t take the offer), but the program had a good success rate. And it made so much more sense to treat these people like the humans with a medical issue they were, rather than criminals.
Ms. Deranged in AZ
@Sebastian: Military law is substantially different from civilian law. Moreover, we need less militarization, not more.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka): But there’s a few problems with this.
So, I’m in the camp that alien life is a certainty, including intelligent alien life. It’s just sufficiently uncommon to be quite rare (particularly the intelligent part) and we as a species have not been able to detect alien life for long – inside the lifetime of some people here.
It wasn’t long ago that it was unclear if planets existed outside of our solar system, and the first hint of evidence for exoplanets was barely 25 years ago. Every bit of evidence we find has expanded the coefficients of the Drake Equation. There is intelligent life out there, but we’re just barely as a species capable of observing that.
Give it time, but fear that day, because the religious believers are going to freak the fuck out.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Duets with Tony Bennett.
Ms. Deranged in AZ
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka): State GOP here in AZ is trying to pass a law that would ban local govs from regulating firearms in their jurisdictions. So much for caring about local opinions!
(1) this is a great essay, and I thank the Oracle for it.
(2) As a person of color who happens to be moderately well-off, I hold two contradictory thoughts in my head simultaneously: on the one hand, I rely on the police for protection, so that I don’t get robbed, and on the other, I am under no delusions whatsoever, that if I were to interact with the police, they’d treat me like a white perrson. I know that I’d be hollerin’ “I’m one of the good ones! I’m an Indian! Don’t shoot me! I’ll do precisely what you order!”
And (3) I remember reading in a book about Nazi Germany that one of the reasons that “ordinary Germans” accepted the totalitarian police state, was that they knew it would never be directed at them; it was solely for the oppression of enemies of the State, and that was, by definition, not Aryans.
I’m reminded of that Twelfth Night Insurrectionist who got arrested at an airport, and was screaming/sobbing “You’re treating me like a Black person!”
There couldn’t be any more ….. precise a description of the racist state of policing in America, than his sobbing cry.
ETA: always gotta have three bullet points on the slide: it’s a McKinsey rule, so I hear.
@Sebastian: I would worry that the military would be contaminated by the racist culture of the po-po, and that …. well, we don’t want that.
I’d like to see police semi-disarmed. They can carry any weapons they want in their squad cars, but there should be strict protocol determining when it is appropriate to remove one. Traffic stop, cat stuck in tree, domestic dispute, serving a warrant on a non-violent offender … no. Robbery in progress, shots fired … sure. If a situation starts to go south — the cat starts hissing, say — they can always retreat, go back to the car, and grab a pistol or a phaser or whatever. I suspect a lot of encounters would be a lot less tense if people weren’t dealing with/reacting to somebody with a big honkin’ gun.
Ms. Deranged in AZ
@Hungry Joe: I have to disagree with you on this. Domestic violence situations are the deadliest for cops because the men in those situations are often armed. As for non-violent warrants, just because that warrant is for a non-violent offense that doesn’t mean the perp is non-violent. You have to know their entire rap sheet to know that.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I never saw the movie, but… y’all remember Andrew McCarthy?
I believe there is a lot of alien life out and about, including in our own solar system. Very likely similar to the critters here on Earth who live in the abyssal depths, where the tectonic plate heat vents are. It’s sentient, as nearly everything alive is sentient, just to varying degrees of complexity.
However, the alien life we’re really looking for, that we really want to find, is sapient life. Folks like us, who talk and make art and think deep thoughts about stuff.
That’s the kind of alien life I’m skeptical about, and the reason has to do with the history of life on this planet.
Life on Earth has been through 5-count-em-5 major extinctions, at least two of which nearly rendered the Earth entirely uninhabitable. Humanity itself very nearly went extinct at some point – I don’t remember when or what disaster precipitated it, but at one point we were down to less than 100,000 individuals.
Getting back to the string of massive extinctions: each one killed off what had been the dominant species, and left openings for new dominant species. Each time the torch was passed (so to speak) it was passed to a different Order, with us primates at the very end of the line. In a timeline stretching out over multiple hundreds of millions of years.
So: maybe there was intelligent, sapient, even space-faring life in the universe…a hundred million or so years ago. And now those species are long gone, gone so long that even their ruins and fossils are buried deep.
Or: maybe there are entire planets of wonderful species… but none that ever mimicked primate development, with urbanization/industrialization/drowning in our own wastes. Maybe they never developed hands, fingers, thumbs – so much for complex tool-making, never mind city building. Maybe they never did the stereoptic vision thing, or even the bilateral symmetry thing. I like that idea best: a galaxy full of Edens devoid of “higher intelligent life” – but overflowing and happy with all the other kinds of life.
The history of life on this plant is too long, with too many off-ramps to alternative histories (what if there had never been an asteroid??). The odds of some other planet having a 4 billion year history identical to ours, on the same timetable as ours, is vanishingly, vanishingly small.
A pity – I grew up on Star Trek, and the yearning for there to be a Federation of Planets some day is as deep in my soul as the hope of Heaven in more conventional faiths – but logic (ahem!) tells me otherwise.
@Spanky: Dive Bar Tour.
@Mike in NC: If reading the poem did that for you, wait until you watch her read it.
J R in WV
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
I was impressed by the comparison between Gaga and J-Lo, who I had a pretty high regard for. Lady Gaga tore it up, great pipes, knows how to use them to best effect for what is a difficult song to sing or play.
Not that J-Lo isn’t great, but Gaga outdid her at the Biden Inauguration.
ETA: Lady Gaga was evidently enrolled at the NYU broadway musical program, which takes a successful audition and great potential. Which she has obviously lived up to.
@Yutsano: I highly recommend Linda Jaivin’s Rock and Roll Girls from Outer Space which has a similar theme. Very funny. Set in Sydney.
@J R in WV: I knew about Lady Gaga, but had ever paid much attention to her music (I’m just not that into music).
But back in the Aughts I was VERY into fanfiction and, specifically, “Smallville” fan fiction. Smallville fanfic focused on the relationship between Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. And, besides the thousands of stories, there also video mashups.
Someone took Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and made a video compilation of Clark & Lex. The song was perfect for the subject matter,and I was hooked from the opening chords.
From there, I started paying more attention to Lady Gaga. And what a lovely long strange trip her career has been! From madly costumed, LGBTQ patron saint, Bad Girl of Rock and Roll to… slightly less madly costumed Chanteuse of a Thousand Genres…just a marvel to see, hear, and appreciate!
If I’m not mistaken, Gaga has some operatic training as well as heavy duty music training. At any rate, some SERIOUS musical chops (and I’d rank her above J-Lo, who’s also pretty damn respectable as a singer). She can do a great Julie Andrews and can hold her own with Tony Bennett as a jazz singer, so this didn’t surprise me.
Thanks for this analysis of Lady Gaga’s performance. The power of her voice stood out but I feel most renditions of the SSB seem plodding. I look forward to their finish. The phrasing and changes in tempo, and her gestures, made it thrilling. My family was full of singers trained at top institutions and performing with the top tier of musical organizations that some of it wore off on me. At least I learned to like great work on more than one level.
@Raven: It’s fun to know people who were one step removed from great things. It fills our spirits to see a short line to excellence.
Off topic, but go search you tube for Malinda Herman Official. Look for that song Sunday Morning. It describes my relief as a survivor.
But many of the police unions need busting! I’m a real supporter of unions, even public unions. But I think many police unions are a barrier to reform and anti-black. The current mayor of Philadelphia – no flaming liberal – complains that since the police union continues to represent retired police and they vote for the leadership, it fails to represent the views of active police effectively. He suggests that many of them are open to reform. Could be wishful thinking.
J R in WV
I was totally blown away by Lady Gaga’s performance, yet after watching this analysis, I am still more blown away. And her arranger… and the Marine Band, what a challenge for them to play this difficult song in a subtly different manner. Good job all around!!!
Cathie from Canada
On a side note, I have noticed this winter that the TV shows concerned with policing, like The Rookie, are taking on racism quite directly in their scripts.
I am also noticing some of the hospital shots (Chicago Med, The Resident) starting to deal with other racism issues like disparities in health care.
Baby steps, yes, but in the long run it will make a difference, I think, as it demonstrates what racism really looks like, and models what can be done about it.
David ??Merry Christmas?? Koch
Dennis Kucinich and Barack Obama discuss UFOs (video)
@Zelma: Police union leadership is a power center outside of elected officials, especially when those officials are term limited.
I read an article about interstellar travel a few years ago that really stuck with me. It noted that any species with technology capable of this would also necessarily have the capacity to destroy itself. The author wondered if any species would also have the ability and wisdom to avoid self-destruction before beginning inter-planetary travel. So do I .
Yes. And often the police union leadership is reactionary and racist. Like any union, it sees its main role as protecting its members, no matter what. Power without accountability is always dangerous. And too often, the police unions protect their members who do not deserve protection. Whatever Christie’s motives in Camden, there seems to be little doubt that policing has improved in the city.
That’s weird. I’ve been in teacher’s unions and they only represent active teachers. I mean, they also represent the interests of retirees, but only active teachers are voting members. The only ones who ever voted in our local elections were actual teachers who were at our local after-school meetings.
The other difference between teaching and policing is that teachers unions do not represent any supervisors or administrators. ONLY teachers. The minute you get promoted up to any supervisory administrative job in any school district you leave the union and become “management” That doesn’t seem to happen with police unions.
I am far from an expert in police unions. I was just struck by what Mayor Kennedy said about the Philly police union, that the retired members had lots of sway.
I’m sure every city is different. I think in NYC, there is one union for officers and one for sergeants, but I could be wrong. I do know that the police unions there are large and extremely powerful and opposed to any meaningful oversight. Every liberal mayor fights with them. Giuliani pandered to them; he actually fomented a police riot against Dinkins. I think Bloomberg paid them off. At least he didn’t really try to control them. They are the third rail of urban politics.
@Zelma: Another idea is that biological races aren’t suited to interstellar travel – as Charles Stross put it, “canned primates in space was never going to work out”. So every race is restricted to its own solar system.
@Ms. Deranged in AZ:
I completely agree (love your nym btw!) but now that we have a militarized force running rampant and seemingly accountable to no one, we need to inject massive amounts of discipline into the entire force.
Police departments and their unions are fighting any reform tooth and nail, joined by GOP, concern trolls, PR, and media raising the spectre of rape and murder.
I am not arguing to turn police into military but to sever the interdependency between local prosecutors, courts, and cops on one hand and in the rare cases where a cop ends up in court, they turn into fragile flowers who are afraid of their own shadows.
All this leads to zero accountability which makes them behave like warlords, ignore civilian leadership or often be in outright contempt. That’s an unsustainable situation, if we want to fix this a lot of heads need to roll.
@J R in WV:
I was ahead of the curve on this. We have a photo of our late mother with Biden from 1981 and I saw Gaga in 2008. That musical analysis has a lot of BS thrown in. The transcription is faulty, some of his chords are wrong etc.
@Richard: Thanks for this.
Ms. Deranged in AZ
@Sebastian: I think we can all agree on needing accountability bit there are better solutions on achieving that. Reforming the criminal justice system has been a lifelong interest of mine (both my degrees are in CJ and I worked in law enforcement briefly a lot ng time ago). I quit because I had zero confidence I could make any difference from within the system itself. I believe that one of the crucial elements to solving many of our current problems lies in training. I could write reams on the topic….suffice it to say, accountability is definitely one of the ways in which we will reform the system but there are many tools we need to use to make that happen. Anything having to do with militarization of any kind is part of the problem and cannot be part of the solution.
I happen to think that we have already been visited by aliens, and that when it happened, It was a really big deal, and changed the coarse of human history. It was the birth of Christianity.
What happened is pretty well documented.
Consider Jesus’ baptism:
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Sounds like aliens to me.
There are other bible stories…. fiery chariots….. Virgin birth, (why would anyone believe her?)….. the resurrection when Jesus went home.
Sounds more plausible to me than a lot of stuff that I hear anyway.
@Ms. Deranged in AZ:
Wholeheartedly agree on training. United States trains police officers 12-30 weeks if I am not mistaken.
In Germany patrol officers have to finish a two and a half year police academy.
In many countries police officer have at least two years of training in Judo or Jiu-Jitsu when they graduate police academy. Continuous training in martial arts is mandatory.
It then so happens that in those countries police officers don’t reach for their gun in every single situation because they are more than capable to deal with most day to day situations just fine. A brown or maybe even black belt in Jiu-Jitsu will do that.
I still think police should have a draconic internal discipline system modelled after some existing successful ones (I only know military ones).
@Sebastian: The gun laws in other countries (like, they have some) have a lot to do with it too.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
This is my take – biological exploration beyond local systems is a nonstarter due to necessary atmospheric components AND histamine triggers AND unknown pathogens.
HG Wells actually foreshadowed the limitation.
Guest posts have made the front pagers lazy.
Cities and counties up and down the Colorado Front Range urban corridor have been adding mental health co-responders to local law enforcement. Some of it is being paid for out of existing federal dollars, but mostly it’s local funding. Everybody seems to be happy with the results. One of the unplanned benefits is that quite a lot of frequent 911 callers are now calling support groups instead.
We recently moved from one part of the Front Range to another so I’m having to catch up with the local governments. The county is growing at a staggering rate. Two years ago, when the jail was getting grossly overcrowded, the commissioners looked at usage numbers and decided to build a low-security mental health facility instead of adding to the jail. The people who will be “held” there are going to generally be short timers who are put in touch with proper social services, get back on their meds regularly, etc.
It’s important to realize, though, that what’s possible in a high-growth high-income region is not possible everywhere without a bunch of money flowing in.
On paper, this is a good idea.
On the ground, you encounter a problem: the police ended up with those duties because the area’s government didn’t want to provide those services and preferred to give the money to the police. No amount of federal money is going to make up for all the places run by Boss Hawg / Trump clones who _like_ the idea of cops brutalizing the poor and brown.
And don’t even get me STARTED on how conservatives will spin improved DV counseling into “THEY’RE DISRESPECTING MAH FAMILY VALUES”.