Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bad Economic Times and Law Enforcement

The recent economic news had primarily centered on businesses in America and has moved away from the individuals. What I mean by this is that the first signs of the economy failing and the big news 6 months ago was the residential foreclosures sweeping the country. The media and the government focus has now moved to business failures. I am going to put my Conan Obrian collar and point the flashlight at my face and make some predictions.

Cities and counties across the state look to cut budgets as taxes coming in to pay for services are dropping. It is a necessary evil as government must live with in their means. The problem with Law Enforcement is crime increases as the economy drops. Yet police agencies across the nation are held to flat budgets at best and cuts at the worst.

It is the way the cookie crumbles and there is not a lot that can be done. If crime rates raise to the point of crisis then and only then will government leaders bite the bullet and divert funds from other projects to law enforcement. The good side, if there is one, is that public safety is usually the last government function that is usually cut and is the easiest function in which to make a case for holding back cuts or even getting additional resources in tough economic times, if the crime rate is increasing enough.

In Santa Fe, the majority of the general fund for county government is property tax related. The huge swings seen in the city funds where the taxes are generated primarily through gross receipts are some what moderate in the county where property taxes are more stable. Leaders in law enforcement recognize crime trends and how economic factors, socioeconomic factors, seasons, weather, holidays and other factors that affect crime rates and respond accordingly. We need to prepare for the short and long term effects of tough economic times and ensure that our officers understand and are prepared to deal with these times. The upside to tough economic times is that careers in law enforcement become more desirabled. The benefits, retirement, job stability and pay make law enforcement a much more viable option to those who may not consider the career otherwise.

The important thing is that we understand and prepare for these times both as public officials and as individuals. Individuals need to understand what these times mean for crime trends and take extra precautions to prevent crime. The truth is we all should take these precautions all the time but there is never a better time than now to pay attention. I am adding these crime tips for burglaries because that is the most prevalent crime that will increase with tough economic times.

  • Make your home look occupied, and make it difficult to break into.
  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
  • Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day. Use motion detector lights outside.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked.
  • Don't allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or fliers to build up while you are away. Arrange with the post office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
  • Push-button locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
  • Know who belongs or does not belong in your neighborhood. If someone looks suspicious, call the police to have them checked out.
  • Keep your yard clean and bushes and trees trimmed. You don't want to give burglars a place to hide or remain concealed as they come in and out of your yard.
  • If you have an alarm system, use it, even if you are only leaving for a short time. While they may not prevent burglary's they do reduce the amount of items taken and many times when the alarm goes off the burglar will leave with out taking anything. Whether you have an alarm system or not buy signs that say you have an alarm and place them around your home.
The thing about burglaries is that one or two people can do 5 or 6 burglaries in a day. A few days of doing this and the crime rate can rise dramatically in just a short time. When we catch these persons the crime rate drops just as dramatically. We will catch these people and things will return to normal. The most effective way to catch these burglars is through help from the public. Deputies can not be everywhere and most burglars are caught when someone calls in a suspicious person or vehicle or when a burglar is caught in the act. I ask everyone to be extra vigilant and be our eyes and ears, it is a cliche but its also very true that crime prevention begins at home.


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