I came across this Government Technology “Point of View” editorial today regarding the cost of the war in Iraq to civilians here at home. Many communities depend on federal funding to provide salaries for law enforcement officers and personnel, but the funding is being diverted to the war in Iraq.
The editorial references the Government Technology article, “Vanishing Act.”Â It’s an article about how funding is diverted from community policing to the war efforts and homeland security. As a result, crime is up (although, admittedly, there are other factors), and police departments are forced to revert to reactionary methods of policing versus the proactive benefits of community policing. Additionally, many police officers are also military soldiers and are now serving in the war.
I remember when the Clinton administration started funding community policing in the 1990’s. The situations that led to it were just as dire as they are now. People moved out of the cities as a result. President Clinton realized that we had to save our cities, in part because they are the backbone of the country’s manufacturing economy. I lived in Milwaukee at the time, and I watched it go from bad to worse to better. Milwaukee’s revitalization was due in part to community-based police officers that worked with the local citizens. When the police disappear, the citizens feel that they’ve lost the support of their city.
Moving to the suburbs is not the answer; you are only spreading the problem out there. Increasing taxes doesn’t resolve the matter either, because residents already spend a lot of money in taxes. It is up to community leaders, businesses,Â and residents to come up with creative solutions to dealing with this problem. We need to re-strengthen community policing and develop greater ties between government and communities.