When you need the cops…and the fire fighters…
Something happened in my neighborhood today, and I would like to share it with you and how it colors my viewpoint on some of the discussions I hear going on in our city.
The other day we noticed a neighbor’s house that was having some work performed by a cement contractor. This neighbor’s house is home to an elderly woman and her middle aged son. The woman has a severe case of dementia, the son apparently stays there with her to take care of his mother.
I received a call today from a different neighbor, asking me to look out my window to see if the police were at the house having the concrete work done. I looked, and sure enough there were several cruisers parked on the street.
The caller told me that he had observed the middle aged son screaming and striking his mother. From what little I was able to glean later, the son was possibly upset because his mother had wandered onto the freshly poured concrete. After this happened, the elderly woman was laying on the ground, apparently injured.
The police came quickly, and the fire department shortly thereafter. The son was led away in cuffs, the mother was placed into the back of an ambulance, and the situation was resolved.
Now contrast this outcome with what would have gone down had Paul Smith been in power. Mr. Smith has stated that he would reduce police and fire coverage by 50% were he to become mayor and able to get a majority vote.
With emergency services cut in half, not only would fewer cops have shown up to my street, they might not have shown up at all. The City of Detroit is infamous for the four-hour police response. Why? Because they’re drastically under-funded and simply cannot keep up with all of the crime that takes place there. Things that have “already happened” get a lower priority than “crimes in progress” and, well, there are always crimes in progress.
Do we want that here? I sure don’t.
Yes, police officers and fire fighters are expensive people to keep on staff. They are highly trained, and there is a market for their services. If they’re good, they can go where the money is, and they frequently do. Right now, one of the cities that happens to pay them well is Sterling Heights.
This has been a point of contention in a city that up until recently has been having some financial problems. Regardless of whether or not you like labor unions — and my record is clear on this, I do not — you have to acknowledge that market forces are at work regardless of how employment with a municipality such as Sterling Heights is structured, either through collective bargaining or an individually based process. Although I believe the argument that unions drive up the price of doing business has some merit, the fact remains that good people are hard to come by, and when they can be found it behooves an employer to reward them well. You and I deserve the best cops and firefighters our tax dollars can buy. To a large extent, I believe we have them.
One of the very few things I ask of my local government is that it is well protected by emergency services. As a conservative, I don’t need bread and circuses, but I do want to live in a place that is subject to the rule of law. The alternative is a striking contrast with the situation as we have it today, and one only needs to look a few miles south to get a sampling of what Mr. Smith’s vision for the city would be like. The rule of law in the City of Detroit is little more than a concept, rather than a reality. If you want a fast police response down there, you better tell the 911 operator somebody’s shooting people.
This election promises to be interesting. There are a number of new contenders for council seats that are not well known. I will, as I have in the past, try to get a sense of who these people are and report my observations here. I will also once again approach incumbents and ask them about their views and plans for the city.
Maybe there are some gems amongst these newcomers. It’s hard to say just based on a single issue or a few council appearances. I hope to find out. All will be treated fairly.
As far as Mr. Smith is concerned, he is a well known quantity. We are nowhere close to November as of this writing, but I can tell you with complete confidence that he would be the worst choice the city could possibly make. With little doubt I will be able to demonstrate that to you in great detail over the upcoming months. Stay tuned.