Thursday, May 17, 2007

Badge, Gun, and Green Card?

San Miguel Policia

I was surprised but somewhat intrigued when I read in yesterdays paper that the City of Santa Fe Police were toying with the idea of hiring immigrants as police officers. Public Schools, the Military, and Hospitals have all tried to fill hard to fill job vacancies such as nurses, teachers and soldiers by recruiting from outside the United States Borders. With the promise of a green card and a better life many would be eager to come live the American Dream.

When the City Councilors began to put immense pressure on the Chief to fill vacancies then it was time to "think outside the box". Too bad the City did not have a runaway bride incident to use to their recruiting advantage. All law enforcement agencies are having trouble recruiting and the pressure from city councilors is probably taking its toll on the recruiting officers at the city. They needed to show up to Tuesdays Public Safety Meeting with some answers so the immigrants idea was just one of many thrown at the councilors and the public safety committee. Unfortunately something like this garners a lot of attention and is bound to generate negative reactions such as this one from Joe Monahan.


Will someone please do something about the over-the-top Santa Fe police department? A crime wave has swept the city and now they want to hire Mexican nationals to fill cop vacancies? Actually, the department needs more vacancies--including the top brass. Where is the mayor? Hiding in a booth at Tiny's waiting for it all to go away as this story breaks nationally? Mayor, you are supposed to be safeguarding an American treasure, our nation's oldest capital city. But you already knew that.

In all reality the idea will go no where, it would require an act of congress to allow for expedited green cards for those wanting to work as police officers. Background checks would be a nightmare and would be highly inaccurate. On the other hand Spanish speaking officers would help greatly in this immigrant friendly community. They are highly sought after by all law enforcement agencies including mine. Schools have had the most success recruiting Spanish speaking teachers through programs such as the proposed one by the City Police.

I had an interesting conversation the other night with a former Police Academy classmate. We were discussing the recent increases in salaries all police agencies are having to implement in order to hire and retain officers. He said something enlightening. While wages for officers have gone up considerably since the two of us started in 1988 and we were making six something an hour they have not reached "market rate". That is they have not reached a rate that is equal to what is required to make the job a "sought after job even when the risk is taken into account". When parents speak of success for their children they look to doctors, lawyers, the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's of the world. Yet what is the risk versus reward factor in law enforcement vs these jobs? Even police officers often say they hope their kids grow up to be successful and do something else.

Law Enforcement must be elevated to a respected and well paid profession and not just a job you can retire from in 20 years. We all love to watch "Cops" and "Law and Order" but how many say it looks cool but I wouldn't risk my life for $13.50 an hour. Yes, the starting pay for most officers is between $11 and $13.50 an hour. Officers with experience and whom are State Certified start at $17 an hour. Although, ....... that hourly pay with benefits probably looks really good to someone from Mexico.

1 comment:

Julie Ann Grimm said...

The pay scale for law enforcement is a crying shame. (Same goes for teachers ... a rant for another day)
I'm thankful for the men and women who put themselves in harm's way, and I hope one day they get the financial support they really deserve. Why does our society think pencil-pushing government blah blahs and crack-smoking, booty-shaking "starlets" deserve it more?
I was recently out at the city's wastewater treatment plant and was surprised to learn that the starting pay for operators there rivals the starting salary for both city police and your agency. (Not that putting up with that smell isn't also worth some dough ...BUT) When I said that out loud, Costy Kassisieh, the director of the plant, summed it up like this: "I tell people they can come to work here and our sh*t doesn't shoot back."
I couldn't put that in my story. Bummer.
The Shark