Friday, October 19, 2007

Don't Blame The Crime Data Messenger

Tom Corboy, a fairly active Republican (good thing) and Ward 1 resident (uhh, I think there's a house for sale on my street), wrote a letter to the editor chastising the unprofessionalism associated with the police chief calling Dennis Conti's crime report "crap":

It can only be with the approval of his immediate supervisor, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, that he continues to get away with shooting the messenger instead of dealing with the issues.

Yeah, the Moyer administration is not known for embracing citizen criticism.

But more importantly, why the need to include the mayor's middle initial? It happens all the time, and for what? There are only 2 people that have middle initials important enough to include when saying their name:

-Michael J. Fox
-George W. Bush

Why do they continue to demean those who put forth well-meaning and well-thought-out ideas.

Much like Mrs. Politics when I asked her if she would theoretically prefer a "big ol' engagement ring", I have no answer*.

*(Truth be told, when Mrs. Politics was asked the above question, her response was "certainly not old". Uh-oh.)

Could it be, as the chief suggests, "just politics"--rather than a credible discussion of crime statistics, and the very real impact they represent on the quality of life in Annapolis?

As the writer suggests (believe me: he suggests this--I read the whole letter), the report is not 'political trash'. The claims made are appropriate for a concerned citizen.

Only one modification to Mr. Corboy's letter, with regards to the following statement:

The residents of Annapolis are ready and willing to pay for public safety.



scott_api said...

Have you ever considered this: We already have the level of public safety we can buy with the amount of money we are currently willing to pay. Maybe we need to pay more, purchase a more expensive product to ensure it works as advertised.

I am not saying that is the case, all I am saying is that it is a valid question that I have not seen asked nor answered.

Brian Gill said...

Well, I guess I would say that this has been considered, although in a roundabout way.

The first thing I would point out is that we don't have the level of public safety that we are willing to pay for. We the citizens--indirectly through the budget process--have shown that we are willing to pay for 23 more officers than we currently have. These officers are already budgeted for, but they have not been hired! (And where does that money go??!!)

As for the question of getting what you pay for, I would guess that it applies more to the number of officers we can attract, rather than how hard or well they work once they are hired. And there has been some debate on this issue. The mayor claims that we pay more than surrounding jurisdictions, but it has been noted that she included a $5,000 signing bonus in her calculation of salary, and since that signing bonus is one-time only, the salaries actually decreases after year 1, which would make the APD less attractive to potential officers. (Others have said that the mayor flat out lied about the salaries.)

Perhaps we could attract a more qualified chief if we offered $200,000 per year instead of around $120,000, but I'm not sure that's necessary.

The problem as I see it is not a structural problem--it's a problem with leadership. In other words, we have loads of people who want to become officers. But the city didn't give the entrance exam for a year! Now that they have, they haven't hired anyone that passed the exam! And if/when they hire some, the city doesn't have a police academy to train the officers, so we have to coordinate with AA or some other county to get the officers trained. If we corrected all of these issues and still had a problem, I think the suggestion of raising what we pay officers would be appropriate, but there is plenty the mayor can do right now without spending more money.

Thanks for the comment.