December 22 2008

Police Budgeting Problems

sheriff badgeThe economy is hitting every one hard, and police budgets are not immune either.

In the past 24 hours I have heard two odd stories of how different police departments are handling budget problems.  The first came from the infamous “M”, famed around this blog for the World’s Longest Dark Knight Review, who is currently haunting the streets of Gotham New York City.  It seems that the police have increased patrols to seemingly focus on motor vehicle violations in an effort to issue more tickets.  She told me a tale of someone she knew who got pulled over for one thing, told to move over to a specific spot on the side and was issued a second ticket for parking in a no parking area.  This person will fight the second ticket as he was ordered to move there, but that still just shows how desperate they are for income.

The second story I learned about at lunch today as I dined with a friend of mine.  After he gave me my weekly ribbing about salad bar etiquette, I was telling him about what M had told me.  He informed me of a story from St. Louis about how much their police department was spending on badges for their top officers.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had broken a story about how the St. Louis police department had just spent $1,987 each on five badges.  The new badges were for a chief badge, two assistant chief badges and two lieutenant colonel badges.  These new works of art were purchased from Stange Co., of Maryland Heights which is known for making jewlery for third-world governments up to Queen Elizabeth II.  These new badges cost 100 times that of a rank-and-file patrol officer in St. Louis as their badges cost $19.75.

In all fairness to the new police chief, Daniel Isom, the badges were ordered before he took office, and he agrees the spending is outrageous.  Of course, these new badges are a bargain compared to the $5,900 his predecessor, Joe Mokwa, spent on solid gold badges.

The owner of the jewlery company tried to defend the cost saying that he was sure that the Police Chief of Los Angeles probably spends more.  The newspaper called the LA police chiefs office and found his badge cost $61.  The St. Louis jewler was concerned with how shabby his badge must be at that price.

We are hearing endless stories of how taxes will be raised in states all across this country to help with budget short falls, and then you see stories like this that make you wonder how long the common person will have to pay for the stupidity of those people who are partially responsible for the mess we’re in.  I am always reminded of the Kevin Kline movie Dave where a man impersonates the President after he has a stroke, and when the budget spins out of control, he calls in his best friend, an every day accountant, to look at the governments books and cut the budget to save some programs.

Where are the every day accountants?  You are needed more than ever.

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