The GUARDIAN has inadvertently stirred up a hornet’s nest with the publication of Top Copper Mike Masterson’s cost containment memo.
The local news channels jumped on the GUARDIAN story and the police union has come out in strong opposition to Masterson’s cost containment strategy–especially as it relates to ticket writing.
We pretty much agreed with everything but the line item of writing more tickets to raise $89,000 as part of a plan to meet a $1.2 million budget deficit. Masterson was clear in his memo–and in an interview with the GUARDIAN–that with fewer “calls for service” the coppers can devote more effort to traffic enforcement, regardless of their primary assignment. Of course one benefit to more tickets is more fine money.
Here is the complete text of the police union memo:
“It is the express wish of the members of the Boise Police Union to clarify our position on a “cost containment strategy” that was recently proposed by Boise Police Chief, Michael Masterson. The Boise Police Union adamantly opposes the use of traffic enforcement as a strategy for creating revenue.
The Union understands that the police are part of the public and not separate from those that we serve. We also understand that many, if not all, of the citizens that we serve are undergoing some form of economic hardship or stress at this time. We absolutely will not agree to a strategy of “cost containment” that passes along more of an economic burden to our citizens, especially at a time of economic distress.
The Union fundamentally believes that even in good economic times that traffic enforcement should never be used for the purpose of revenue generation. Policing is not about, and should never be used for revenue generation, as we are charged with serving the public, not taxing them.
While receiving a traffic citation is unpopular with everyone, it is a form of service that can reduce traffic fatalities and improve driving behavior. The use of traffic enforcement for these reasons is appropriate and makes the streets safer for all of us. Fines and penalties are meant to be the deterrent to stop driving behavior, and not a reward for the entity issuing the citations. It is obvious how the latter could contribute to the perception of corruption, and it should be our mission to fight that perception at all times.
The Union also recognizes that while the police are part of the community that they serve, the relationship between the public and the police is one that needs constant attention to be maintained. The Union believes that the proposed “cost containment strategy” will only serve to deteriorate that relationship, which would ultimately serve to erode the quality of life in our wonderful community.
The mission statement of the Boise Police Department is to “enhance public safety through proactive problem solving and increased community partnerships.” We believe that this “cost containment strategy” flies in the face of our fundamental mission and places the burden of our budget shortfalls on the taxpayer’s shoulders. The Union believes that we should enhance our “partnerships” with the community by bearing the brunt of this economic cycle appropriately, just as we expect our citizens to do. Therefore, we adamantly oppose the “cost containment strategy” proposed by Chief Masterson.
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