Law enforcement facing even more challenges

Ron Craig

With the recent events in Memphis, Tennessee, law enforcement is facing even more challenges than ever before.
It appears very serious mistakes were made by members of that police department, which the courts will address. The event sheds another dark cloud over law enforcement as a whole. It reignites debate for those who have an anti-law enforcement agenda.
I recently took part in some online training in which race became part of the discussion. When it came time for me to give my input, I said I did not want to be painted with the same brush that officers who don’t follow the rules, just like good citizens who behave themselves do not want to be painted with the same brush as those who misbehave. In the past several years, we have seen a greater than normal exodus of officers who have chosen to leave the profession earlier than expected. This includes those who have taken up other lines of work or who have retired early.
The anti-law enforcement sentiment among some citizens has also had a profound effect on law enforcement personnel. These factors have also served to dwindle the pool of people seeking careers in this field. This has, in turn, made it more difficult, but not impossible, to hire qualified candidates to fill openings. It has also created headaches for local, county, and state officials who must raise the levels of pay to attract new people and to retain those already employed.
Let’s take for example the Ohio State Highway Patrol. One of my best friends is second in command at OSHP, and he told me recently that agency is down several hundred troopers from its normal levels of staffing. This has caused them to make changes in their rules and regulations, not the least of which deals with tattoos. Recently, OSHP changed their stance on tattoos to make wearing long-sleeved shirts permissible year-round to cover them up.
While you may say this is a minor change, they have had to make other, more drastic changes, one of which regards pay. The OSHP now has a starting pay that not too many years ago is equivalent to someone that held the rank of sergeant with several years of experience.
Here in Lake Township, we have a great group of officers who are dedicated to serving the needs of our residents. In turn, our residents greatly support our officers. Such is not always the case in other areas. It seems we have developed a culture here in Lake Township that allows us to keep our good officers.
Nationwide, this crunch we have been experiencing is hurting just about every law enforcement agency, especially the smaller ones who keep losing their personnel to larger agencies who can afford to pay their officers higher wages and provide better benefits.
Like many businesses, law enforcement faces rising costs, which makes it more difficult for us to provide the same level of service to our residents and taxpayers. Unlike businesses, we cannot keep pace with these rising costs by passing them along to the consumers, raising the cost of the goods we sell. We either have to raise taxes or make cuts to other areas of government, or both.
This article is a public service from the Community Policing/Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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