Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Let Them Eat Private Security Services!"

Detroit's Fictional Answer to Police Budget Cutbacks
A disturbing piece in today's New York Times describes the chaotic decay of the Sacramento Police Department under intense budget pressures.
In 2011, faced with the biggest budget cuts yet — $12.2 million — Chief Rick Braziel was forced to take drastic action: he laid off sworn officers and civilian employees; eliminated the vice, narcotics, financial crimes and undercover gang squads, sending many detectives back to patrol; and thinned the auto theft, forensics and canine units. Police officers no longer responded to burglaries, misdemeanors or minor traffic accidents.
It would be interesting to see the socioeconomic distribution of these non-responses and how much more unresponsive the department is to poor and minority neighborhoods than it is to affluent "taxpayer" neighborhoods.

In 2011, Chief Braziel said, the cuts, in his opinion, went past the tipping point. While homicides have remained steady, shootings — a more reliable indicator of gun violence — are up 48 percent this year. Rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and vehicle thefts have also increased, though in smaller increments. 
Complicating matters, the cutbacks have coincided with a flow of convicted offenders back into the city as California, heeding a Supreme Court ruling, has reduced its prison population. Once released, former inmates have less supervision — the county’s probation department also suffered cuts.

Much like the obscene growth in the prison-industrial complex, how much do you want to bet that the private security firms in Sacramento will soon be prospering in response to these cutbacks as wealthy citizens ensure that they remain safe in their gated havens while the rest of the city decays into anarchy?  I'm willing to wager that it's already underway.

This is all, of course, the plot of the film RoboCop... Another win for America!

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