Tuesday, May 27, 2008

PSA Tuesday - More Local Police Issues

I've decided that I'm not going to continue specifically with my Police Academy series. There are a couple of reasons for that:

1. I'm not always clear what it's okay to write about and what it's not. I don't want to either share secrets that I'm not supposed, nor to give out any misinformation.

2. This blog is getting to feel heavy to me, and honestly, I need to vary to some lighter topics.

Be that as it may, I do want to wrap up some things today. Again, I want to reiterate how wonderful the whole Citizens Police Academy experience has been, and how grateful I am to the many presenters who have worked to make our information sessions as wonderful as they have been.

I also want to put a special shout out to Officer Stephanie Kjos-Warner, my delightful host for my "ride-along" last Tuesday. It was very enlightening and Officer Kjos-Warner was extremely generous in answering my many questions. She even took time to help me on a whole number of aspects of my plot. Interestingly enough, she's also a writer, and writes simply fabulous children's stories, some of which she shared with me during lunch break. It's interesting to me that I, as someone who works with children, is a mom, etc., etc., chooses to write about darker, adult themes, and this woman who works with the scarier aspects of society writes these delightful, humorous stories for young children! Guess that just goes to show you that writing still is the best form of escapism.

The Ann Arbor News has produced a series of articles over the last week about police work in Ann Arbor. This is very important because our city budget is up for voting and one of the issues is FINALLY getting the much-needed new facilities for our Police Department and Court system. The conditions that the Ann Arbor Police work under are decrepit. They need far better facilities and tools. A couple of our local council members have started a campaign to put this funding off yet again.

To add insult to injury, a gorgeous, new, state-of-the-art facility was opened as the new homeless shelter. While that was also a great need, and while I am certainly supportive of homeless facilities being safe and truly useful (ie. having the services, offices, etc., to get people permanent housing, employment, medical care, etc.), given that our police officers and staff have faced cuts repeatedly, had their work loads go up exponentially, and that many of their day-to-day work involves way too much work on "nuisance cases" - many of the same guests who use the shelter and who are actually mentally ill or addicts and who need a different support system than the ones currently in place in MI.

If that wasn't enough, apparently it's easier to fund our city golf courses (see articles below).

We are a very liberal town. And we are a very wealthy town. Even during the current economy, especially when you compare us to other parts of Michigan. This combination makes us far more likely to support things like homeless shelters than new facilities for our overworked police officers.

These people work hard for us every. single. day. They are there around the clock, and they are there to help us with everything from delivering babies to getting our lazy children out of bed and to their high school (yup, you heard me right), to dealing with armed drug dealers, to making sure the crowds of over 110,000 are safe during a U of M Football Saturday.

Don't they deserve our support? If you haven't already, please contact your council members and urge them to push through the desperately needed funding for this project.

For more information on what the AAPD faces on a daily basis, see these articles (They are in reverse chronological order):

The chronic criminal No easy solution to repeat-offender problem

Police forces shrinking

Golf course plan approved

Sparks may fly over police-court building

Use of park money for golf to stir debate

Okay, this is the last of my soapbox posts for a while.


thailandchani said...

A good soapbox post it is, too! :)

glamah16 said...

Some people just have their priorities screwed up.Whats with all the self absorbed people and golf lately(referrring to previous post)?:-). I like it when you get on your sopabox because it shows you care. And as we well know not a lot of mankind does.So I'' be happy to read whatever you write about.

April said...

Remember what George Carlin's solution was to the homeless problem? Shut down all the golf courses and create homes for them that way!

Thistlemoon said...

I like when you get up on your soapbox! It is so interesting and you always have insightful things to say!

Golf annoys me - it should stay in Scotland where it was born and makes sense!

BusyDad said...

I like these. They make me think, even if I can't say anything intelligent. But I also have to say I enjoy your food posts. But they often make me go out and buy food. Not good.

Jen said...

Thanks for the support, Chani and Glamah.

Hmmm... April, now *that's* an idea.

Well, Jenn, it would certainly boost Scotland's tourist prospects. That would be interesting if it held the world "license" for people being able to play.

But, Jim, they're supposed to make you stay in and MAKE food. ;-)

Sister Sassy said...

Hey Jen, do they still give out $5 tickets for pot smoking? Not that I got one, but it was a joke that it was less than a parking ticket.

Cool you're doing this, I hear you about the whole mentally ill stuff. Do you remember the man beaten to death in the Kalamazoo train station? He was supposed to have started with me in the MSW program the next week, he was killed by a guy who was headed to Ypsi and I guess would have been living in a facility of some sort before all the funding was cut.

That was a long time ago.

Anyway, I'll have to check out your links when I'm NOT at work (hi server guy, Sassy waves feebly) uh... I gotta go!

cathouse teri said...

Have to admit. I didn't read this post. I can't be gettin all into that civic stuff. :)

But you will LOVE the "Bees" book! I can't wait to hear how you love it! It took me a year to read because I only read when on an airplane.

Jen said...

Yeah, Sassy - it's weird. If you get caught by an Ann Arbor police officer then you get a ticket (I think it's gone up to $15, but still) and it's a ticketable offense, but if a state trooper caught you in Ann Arbor, it's a misdemeanor, because state law is different from A2 law. Typical, huh?

That situation in KZ was tragic. We need more help for those with chronic mental health disorders. Desperately.

cathouse teri said...

Okay fine, I'll add something civic here!

I once heard a comedian say that instead of spending money trying to help the homeless, just give them each $4,000 bucks and tell them to get the hell out of your city. Then they can be some other city's problem. Hee hee.

Jen said...

LOL, Teri! I couldn't ever just read something when I flew - unless I flew a LOT.

I don't blame you for not reading all the civic stuff... it's why I'm not doing the series anymore... I feel out of my element.

Jen said...

Oops... I missed your second post. Yes, I've heard that one both as a joke and as a serious proposal at one point.

cathouse teri said...

Well I do fly a LOT. About 5,000 miles every two months.

Momisodes said...

I'm happy with whatever you write as well. that is really interesting about how you and the officer both write about polar topics :)

I'll never understand golf.

Anonymous said...

That story about repeat offenders just made me sad, and mad. What the heck can you do? It's like in my previous life as a legal aid lawyer (don't get excited...it paid about $30k a year, so I wasn't a rich lawyer!), wherein we dealt with so many clients who were repeatedly getting popped for driving without a license. What the heck can you do with that problem? If you put them in jail, you're crowding up the place with nonviolent offenders. You can't take away their license cuz, uh, it's already gone. And if you give them a fine, and they don't pay it...do you put them in jail? Then you crowd up the place with....

Jen said...

I thought that was interesting, too, Sandy. I was really lucky to be paired with her!

Patti, yup, that's what the article basically talked about. And it's bogging down our legal system. The drivers scare me more, in terms of drunk driving, etc., but for so many of the petty crimes - it's just a mess.

Alex Elliot said...

Hey I like your soapbox posts! It so weird to me that I've never been to Ann Arbor. I heard so much about it growing up and I worked at a summer camp in MI in college, but I just have never been there.

Jen said...

What camp did you work at, Alex? I wonder if I know it. Well, I might continue doing these... we'll see.

Betsy said...

I don't think you're out of your element at all with these posts! I like the fact that you're civic minded, that you care and that you alert us to these important issues.

anno said...

Like Betsy and others here, I always enjoy reading your soapbox posts -- they wake me up to what's going on around me in my community, and in my world. Of course, I also enjoy hearing what you have to say about food, books, music, and anything else... Don't stop!

Jen said...

Thanks for being so supportive, Betsy and Anno! I'll keep posting civic stuff, because that's what I do, I guess, but I may just need more forays into lighter posts or something.