Police Agencies and Politics, Part I
Posted in the Portsmouth Forum
#1 Oct 2, 2012
A police agency must strive to maintain order, prevent crime, and enforce the laws of the government. Above all, a police agency must be a stable, respectable governmental body within society. All people must abide by the law, and police agencies are sworn to uphold this order.
Yet, we all know politics plays a part in policing. Politics has the power to exert influence over the government and public affairs. Politics can be manipulated to elect leaders who can impose private interests and control over certain resources. Thus, politics influences who will hold various criminal justice positions such as sheriff, police chief, judge, and prosecutor.
In the United States, a sheriff is a county official and is typically the top law enforcement officer of a county. Historically, the sheriff was also commander of the militia in that county. Distinctive to law enforcement in the United States, sheriffs are usually elected. The political election of a person to serve as a police leader is an almost uniquely American tradition. With that tradition goes great responsibility.
Within Ohio, sheriff's offices have probably one of the most extensive sets of responsibilities to those they serve. By statute they must provide the following:
line law enforcement;
court security and service of papers;
extradition process; and
transportation of prisoners.
In truth, there is significant pressure upon county sheriffs and other elected officials to appease those who put them in office. How can such politics redefine a "police agency"? The agency can become committed to maintaining order over everyone except those who politically influence the police. The by-product of this selectivity becomes corruption. So, naturally, this pressure could cause a police agency to place politics above equality and justice.
We live with varying degrees of corruption within the policing system. Some of the corruption involves shades of dishonesty and misrepresentation. For example, most people laugh about the significant increase in arrests during election time. Despite an ineffective past, incumbents can manipulate new facts and figures in an effort for re-election. Many politicians believe a gullible public possesses a "what have you done for me lately" short-term memory of their accomplishments. They use increased policing during elections to bolster their mediocre records.
Given the weight of their authority, most citizens accept a degree of questionable behavior from policing agencies such as the sheriff and the courts. We, the public, sometimes find it easier to "give in" to what we perceive as false charges and unfair fines instead of facing a political police "system." We have become accustomed to a system that allows justice to rely upon position and political influence. Who couldn't name examples of evidence being suppressed depending upon "who and what you are"? And who would deny "special treatment" of those with power and prestige? Politicians often depend upon good relations with high social classes and political parties to stay in office.
Yet, some of the worst police corruption involving politics is nepotism and bribery. Partisanship has no place in policing. Neither do pay-offs of any kind -- be they politically "legal" or illegal. How can people support a political party that wants to maintain control of police policy by spending exorbitant funds to gain that powerful influence? This amounts to bribing certain people through promises of special favors. Nepotism involves favoritism or patronage granted to relatives and close friends regardless of merit.
Continued at :
#2 Oct 2, 2012
Police Agencies and Politics, Part II
Scioto County, Ohio -- by nearly all measures a place where public indifference, questionable political practices, and criminal enterprise have choked needed reform. Joblessness, over dependence on public assistance, mediocre leadership, chemical dependence, and poor public health thrive in this downtrodden area that possesses no true vision of a better, more stable future.
Scioto, a county where high school and college graduates pack their bags and leave in droves for environments with better opportunities and fewer risks. It is an area poisoned with stagnation largely because the sins of so many fathers and mothers have become an accepted way of life. "Get out of town" has become the most accepted solution in the minds of youth who realize that the quality of life in their Appalachian home continues to decline.
Those who represent the best products and resources of the area, the well-schooled and intelligent youth, seldom return to subject themselves to an attitude rooted in the impossible dream of returning to the heyday of manufacturing and "easy," high-paying jobs. How much loss of good character can an area suffer before its total integrity is lost? I fear we are very near to that mark unless significant, well-planned change occurs.
You Can't Live "It" By Just Talking About "It"
The consensus that Scioto Country has major problems in government, enforcement, and infrastructure is overwhelming. People here talk about "wrongs" all the time. A rumor or a truth about any indiscretion spreads like wildfire in a place that desperately looks for scapegoats -- a place quick to find someone and some thing to blame for poor conditions and miscarriages of justice.
Then, after people complain and the bad news fades, people return to their lives "as normal" because they lack human motivation to initiate change. What do they fear? What do they lack to make them put their own hands to work for the common good?
Many good people here have a litany they repeatedly recite when they perceive injustice.
Source: Yet another sin exists in our wicked county.
Response of the People: We are helpless to correct the transgressions of those who stray.
Source: We ask for divine help to stop these evil wrongdoings.
Response of the People: May the Almighty take control and cleanse the hearts of the sinners.
Source: Let His will be done.
Response of the People: Now, live in the hope that God will deliver us from evil.
The good-intentioned people in the county want a better life, a prosperous existence where truth, equality, and freedom reign. They wish; they implore; they put their trust in God. But, few put themselves on the front line of the fight for better conditions. What good are the faithful unless they act out their beliefs and help realize the fruits of their commitments? Until significant numbers of people in a county of 80,000 residents rise to action, the hills will echo with unhappy voices that do nothing but lend to the mood of helplessness.
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