What to do during a police encounter...

ballen0351

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I really hope that's true. I think the trend is certainly in the right direction, though the entire issue of the "blue wall of silence" really came to a head a few years back. I'll try to find something more recent.


I really hope that's true.
As do I.

I can only speak to my experiences but I have been around 1000s and 1000s of officers and even now my current job is to train law enforcement all over the country and we get into some pretty deep conversations about policing and its flaws and where we can improve. Especially around race and sexual orientation issues. I see a difference in the midset of today's police vs even 10 years ago. Again some by necessity due to cameras, some by outside pressure from citizens, some because we are just learning to do things better like the victim center approach, better training.
One example is calls for people going through a mental health crisis. Back when I started we had pretty limited ways to resolve these types of calls and almost all of them resulted in Law Enforcement making people do something they didn't want to do like go to a hospital and often times required force. Now tons of departments are starting to have started Crisis Response teams with specially trained officers to better deal with the mental health issues in our communities.

I'm also not naive enough to think we are fixed there will always be people like your son rode with. It's impossible to not have a few bad apples in every profession. The judge in the county next to mine just blew his head off last week because the FBI was raiding his house for Child Porn. I once saw a local ER doc on the to catch a predator show so there will always be that element but at least in my experience, it's pretty few and far between. As law enforcement agencies start paying more and providing better benefits they are able to be more selective in their hiring and it makes people far less likely to cover for someone. In my last police department, I was making 6 figures with OT I would never risk losing that to cover for a bad apple and that tended to be the attitude of most people in my department. In fact, we openly talked about it. Every time we got a new person on the shift we would make comments to that effect Im not going to risk feeding my family for you so you better act right.
 

dvcochran

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It would be interesting to see what the study would show now. Policing has changed a lot even since 2001. It's far more commonplace now for good officers to turn in bad officers. Hell, I retired in 2019 I've turned in, testified against, arrested, and gotten fired bad officers in my career and never once felt guilty and never once was treated differently by my fellow officers. But talking to the old-timers I know that would have been different in the 80's and even 90's.
We should always be looking for ways to do better in every profession and Law Enforcement is no different. I do think with the addition of Cell Phone cameras and Body Cameras Law Enforcement has taken steps to move in a more professional manner. I also see a change in the mindset of departments as they are starting to put a priority on victim-centered approaches to handling situations.
You will always have bad people in every job unfortunately that's the nature of humanity. But I think the days of cops coving up serious infractions and violence for other cops are working their way out of the profession. I personally never saw an incidence of excessive force by another officer that wasn't reported either by myself or other officers. And of those experiences, the number is less than 5 times in almost 20 years. That's 100,000s of calls for service so this narrative that cops are running around beating and killing people in the streets is not the reality I observed and I spent a majority of my career working in predominantly minority areas and mostly at night.
Nail on the head. That article was more of a TV movie puff piece than anything remotely accurate about the police.

I was also part of a group who turned in a fellow officer who was on the take (had been for some time). That was not easy but the right thing to do.

I also got reprimanded once when I tried to give a guy a break. He walked into the station (not that uncommon) and after a bit I could tell he was PD. His nickname was "Happy" and would come and wash the patrol cars for money. Pretty much a derelict. Like Otis from the Andy Griffith Show.
I was buried in paperwork and just observed the guy while he hung out talking to other people, not causing any trouble. He was there for over 2 hours. When he got ready to leave I talked to him and made sure he was good to go and not driving.
I later found out it was the night dispatcher who reported that I let the guy go. I was miffed at first but let it go and never said anything because by the letter of the law I was in the wrong. I still do not feel bad about giving him a break.
 

Steve

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As do I.

I can only speak to my experiences but I have been around 1000s and 1000s of officers and even now my current job is to train law enforcement all over the country and we get into some pretty deep conversations about policing and its flaws and where we can improve. Especially around race and sexual orientation issues. I see a difference in the midset of today's police vs even 10 years ago. Again some by necessity due to cameras, some by outside pressure from citizens, some because we are just learning to do things better like the victim center approach, better training.
One example is calls for people going through a mental health crisis. Back when I started we had pretty limited ways to resolve these types of calls and almost all of them resulted in Law Enforcement making people do something they didn't want to do like go to a hospital and often times required force. Now tons of departments are starting to have started Crisis Response teams with specially trained officers to better deal with the mental health issues in our communities.

Seriously, I can't tell you how heartened I am to read this. Gives me some hope.

I'm also not naive enough to think we are fixed there will always be people like your son rode with. It's impossible to not have a few bad apples in every profession. The judge in the county next to mine just blew his head off last week because the FBI was raiding his house for Child Porn. I once saw a local ER doc on the to catch a predator show so there will always be that element but at least in my experience, it's pretty few and far between. As law enforcement agencies start paying more and providing better benefits they are able to be more selective in their hiring and it makes people far less likely to cover for someone. In my last police department, I was making 6 figures with OT I would never risk losing that to cover for a bad apple and that tended to be the attitude of most people in my department. In fact, we openly talked about it. Every time we got a new person on the shift we would make comments to that effect Im not going to risk feeding my family for you so you better act right.
Totally agree on all accounts.

Regarding hiring, if you want to look at the clear cause and effect that hiring standards, competitive compensation, and the problems that can come about with discipline and abuse of power, look into the border patrol over the last few decades. It highlights the cycle you mention above very clearly.
 

ballen0351

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Nail on the head. That article was more of a TV movie puff piece than anything remotely accurate about the police.

I was also part of a group who turned in a fellow officer who was on the take (had been for some time). That was not easy but the right thing to do.

I also got reprimanded once when I tried to give a guy a break. He walked into the station (not that uncommon) and after a bit I could tell he was PD. His nickname was "Happy" and would come and wash the patrol cars for money. Pretty much a derelict. Like Otis from the Andy Griffith Show.
I was buried in paperwork and just observed the guy while he hung out talking to other people, not causing any trouble. He was there for over 2 hours. When he got ready to leave I talked to him and made sure he was good to go and not driving.
I later found out it was the night dispatcher who reported that I let the guy go. I was miffed at first but let it go and never said anything because by the letter of the law I was in the wrong. I still do not feel bad about giving him a break.

Seriously, I can't tell you how heartened I am to read this. Gives me some hope.


Totally agree on all accounts.

Regarding hiring, if you want to look at the clear cause and effect that hiring standards, competitive compensation, and the problems that can come about with discipline and abuse of power, look into the border patrol over the last few decades. It highlights the cycle you mention above very clearly.
The pay thing is a huge factor in my opinion. Like I said I train all over the country and I've been to some places in like Rural Mississippi where the officers made 11 dollars an hour and had to provide their own equipment. They were not able to recruit the cream of the crop there.
I worked in Maryland and we would always get people coming to work for us from Pennsylvania because outside of the big cities most of PA would only hire cops as part-time so they could avoid paying benefits. So we would have guys come to work for us that had 3 different part-time police jobs in PA to make a living. So again the people that stay behind and keep working there tend to have some reason they didn't leave either a character flaw or some other negative that kept them from going someplace more professional.

If people want professionals as their officers they need to provide professional salaries and benefits. Otherwise sadly you end up with people that shouldn't be cops and people that couldn't be cops someplace else.
 

Steve

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I was also part of a group who turned in a fellow officer who was on the take (had been for some time). That was not easy but the right thing to do.
This is the problem. Should be easy to do the right thing. If you work in a place where doing the right thing takes a group of people working together and isn't easy, there is something really concerning going on. This is particularly true if it's something as clear as an "officer who was on the take."

If it was hard for you to turn in an overtly corrupt officer, how can anyone reasonably believe you would turn in a cop who is generally okay but crosses the line from time to time?
 

Steve

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The pay thing is a huge factor in my opinion. Like I said I train all over the country and I've been to some places in like Rural Mississippi where the officers made 11 dollars an hour and had to provide their own equipment. They were not able to recruit the cream of the crop there.
I worked in Maryland and we would always get people coming to work for us from Pennsylvania because outside of the big cities most of PA would only hire cops as part-time so they could avoid paying benefits. So we would have guys come to work for us that had 3 different part-time police jobs in PA to make a living. So again the people that stay behind and keep working there tend to have some reason they didn't leave either a character flaw or some other negative that kept them from going someplace more professional.

If people want professionals as their officers they need to provide professional salaries and benefits. Otherwise sadly you end up with people that shouldn't be cops and people that couldn't be cops someplace else.
Yeah, I mentioned earlier that my little town doesn't have the infrastructure to support an independent police force. We have city police officers, but they are actually just permanently detailed from the County Sheriff's office. Last I looked into it, at least.
 

dvcochran

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This is the problem. Should be easy to do the right thing. If you work in a place where doing the right thing takes a group of people working together and isn't easy, there is something really concerning going on. This is particularly true if it's something as clear as an "officer who was on the take."

If it was hard for you to turn in an overtly corrupt officer, how can anyone reasonably believe you would turn in a cop who is generally okay but crosses the line from time to time?
Young, low man on the totem pole, my word against his at first. Had I went out on my own it would not have ended well.
Proof had to built.
You can play that holier than thou crap but a person has to be really, really smart about how they do something like that.

Sounds like you would have just ended up more pissed off at the police than you already are. And most of it would have been your own fault.
 

Steve

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Young, low man on the totem pole, my word against his at first. Had I went out on my own it would not have ended well.
Proof had to built.
You can play that holier than thou crap but a person has to be really, really smart about how they do something like that.

Sounds like you would have just ended up more pissed off at the police than you already are. And most of it would have been your own fault.

As I said before, that's all kinds of red flags. You think what you're saying is reasonable, but it's really not, and the more you elaborate, the more unreasonable it sounds.

What we know so far:
  1. A cop is "on the take". Having seen my share of gangster movies, I interpret that to mean he's been accepting bribes. Maybe it means something else to you. Either way, it sounds like unethical behavior.
  2. You found it hard to report.
  3. You reported it as part of a group, so clearly you weren't the only person aware of his unethical behavior.
  4. It had been going on a long time, so clearly people were aware of his unethical behavior for a long time and didn't report it. This also suggests that his unethical behavior is well known.
  5. As a junior employee, you feared retaliation had you reported what you knew to be true without getting proof on your own.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?

You seem to think this is the way these things are supposed to work, as you suggest that just reporting it wouldn't have ended well for you, and any fallout from reporting it would have been your fault (well, technically, you said my fault, but I wasn't there). I don't know how much experience you have with administrative investigations, but what you're describing is not how a healthy, well run, ethical organization operates.

And the actual point is, this is a serious breach of ethical behavior. This is long term bribery and you only reported it as part of a group, after conducting your own quasi-investigation. If this is the status quo, how can we reasonably expect 'good' officers to report lesser issues, like a guy who occasionally gets a little carried away with use of force? Or a guy who abuses his authority.. but only with really bad guys who deserve it anyway? Or any other unethical behavior that falls short of the extreme example that prompted you and your cohort to finally report the corrupt officer/
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Young, low man on the totem pole, my word against his at first. Had I went out on my own it would not have ended well.
Proof had to built.
You can play that holier than thou crap but a person has to be really, really smart about how they do something like that.

Sounds like you would have just ended up more pissed off at the police than you already are. And most of it would have been your own fault.
How would they have known anything? Just about every job that I've had, there was a way to report HR issues anonymously. In the healthcare-related jobs, there was a way to report ethical problems anonymously, that I've used because lives were at stake. The person I reported, my boss, their bosses, all had no idea it was me. They also did their own review and found the evidence themselves based on what I could report. I can't imagine seeing something unethical happen that could endanger lives and not being able to report what happened afterwards, due to fear regarding my job.

I could potentially see being the newest person around, not wanting to say anything in the moment and waiting until after to report it. Depending on what the issue was/severity of it. But there would be some point that it's safe to report what had happened without fear of retribution.
 

dvcochran

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How would they have known anything? Just about every job that I've had, there was a way to report HR issues anonymously. In the healthcare-related jobs, there was a way to report ethical problems anonymously, that I've used because lives were at stake. The person I reported, my boss, their bosses, all had no idea it was me. They also did their own review and found the evidence themselves based on what I could report. I can't imagine seeing something unethical happen that could endanger lives and not being able to report what happened afterwards, due to fear regarding my job.

I could potentially see being the newest person around, not wanting to say anything in the moment and waiting until after to report it. Depending on what the issue was/severity of it. But there would be some point that it's safe to report what had happened without fear of retribution.
Haha! This was in 1988. We had zero HR department. Two girls in admin but they had nothing to do with the issue. There was no "official review board". You seem to think there was some nice, clean process to do something like this back then in a small town. That could not be farther from the truth.

I have no idea how old you are but imagine you are 20 years old less than a year into a high profile job and you catch your direct boss in a compromising situation. Say what you want but there was a ton to process and honestly I did not know who all I could trust. Believe me when I say I eased into the situation. I already had 2 businesses and in a small town it could have had huge implications had the whole thing went wrong.
The other officer was held in very high regards and very well known about town. It turned the department upside down so much that the Chief (who hired me) resigned some time later (actually a transfer).

I could not imagine it either at the time but I feel some of you guys need to step outside yourself and see the bigger picture. This was definitely the biggest reasons I was a LEO only 5 years. Not so much because someone had a bad error in judgement and ethical issues but how the whole process had to be handled. To say stressful is a massive understatement.
 

dvcochran

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As I said before, that's all kinds of red flags. You think what you're saying is reasonable, but it's really not, and the more you elaborate, the more unreasonable it sounds.

What we know so far:
  1. A cop is "on the take". Having seen my share of gangster movies, I interpret that to mean he's been accepting bribes. Maybe it means something else to you. Either way, it sounds like unethical behavior.
  2. You found it hard to report.
  3. You reported it as part of a group, so clearly you weren't the only person aware of his unethical behavior.
  4. It had been going on a long time, so clearly people were aware of his unethical behavior for a long time and didn't report it. This also suggests that his unethical behavior is well known.
  5. As a junior employee, you feared retaliation had you reported what you knew to be true without getting proof on your own.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?

You seem to think this is the way these things are supposed to work, as you suggest that just reporting it wouldn't have ended well for you, and any fallout from reporting it would have been your fault (well, technically, you said my fault, but I wasn't there). I don't know how much experience you have with administrative investigations, but what you're describing is not how a healthy, well run, ethical organization operates.

And the actual point is, this is a serious breach of ethical behavior. This is long term bribery and you only reported it as part of a group, after conducting your own quasi-investigation. If this is the status quo, how can we reasonably expect 'good' officers to report lesser issues, like a guy who occasionally gets a little carried away with use of force? Or a guy who abuses his authority.. but only with really bad guys who deserve it anyway? Or any other unethical behavior that falls short of the extreme example that prompted you and your cohort to finally report the corrupt officer/
It is brilliant how you feel you have the capacity and information to have a clue what happened.

1 is just ludicrous assumptions.
2 is correct
3,4 you are bizarrely off base and just blindly swinging. Dude.
5 is correct

I will not oblige you with the full story. You obviously would not understand it and make your own story anyway.
 

ballen0351

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Haha! This was in 1988. We had zero HR department. Two girls in admin but they had nothing to do with the issue.
Thats kinda the point I was making to Steve. Just in the last 20 -30 years Law Enforcement has changed so much. Im sure the way things went down in the 80s are totally different then they go down now.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Haha! This was in 1988. We had zero HR department. Two girls in admin but they had nothing to do with the issue. There was no "official review board". You seem to think there was some nice, clean process to do something like this back then in a small town. That could not be farther from the truth.

I have no idea how old you are but imagine you are 20 years old less than a year into a high profile job and you catch your direct boss in a compromising situation. Say what you want but there was a ton to process and honestly I did not know who all I could trust. Believe me when I say I eased into the situation. I already had 2 businesses and in a small town it could have had huge implications had the whole thing went wrong.
The other officer was held in very high regards and very well known about town. It turned the department upside down so much that the Chief (who hired me) resigned some time later (actually a transfer).

I could not imagine it either at the time but I feel some of you guys need to step outside yourself and see the bigger picture. This was definitely the biggest reasons I was a LEO only 5 years. Not so much because someone had a bad error in judgement and ethical issues but how the whole process had to be handled. To say stressful is a massive understatement.
The lack of an HR department or the ability to do that is more of an indictment on the police department than anything else mentioned. I hope that this is no longer the case (although now that I'm thinking about it, I do know of a police officer that was forced to "Retire" early due to reporting unethical behavior, which for his sake I won't go into detail about. So still an issue in 2010).
 

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It is brilliant how you feel you have the capacity and information to have a clue what happened.

1 is just ludicrous assumptions.
2 is correct
3,4 you are bizarrely off base and just blindly swinging. Dude.
5 is correct

I will not oblige you with the full story. You obviously would not understand it and make your own story anyway.
I think in your zeal to try and troll me, you're completely missing the point. I'm not criticizing you. I'm pointing out that you worked in an organization that was dysfunctional. You're taking it personally, but I'm actually impressed you got the hell out of there after only five years. For all the reasons I listed, the organization you worked for epitomizes the issues brought up by me and others.

But, to the other stuff, I'm pretty sure I have as much or more experience with this kind of thing than pretty much anyone on the site. I have been involved in these kinds of investigations in pretty much every role accept for accused. I've managed employees whom I've investigated and eventually fired for misconduct, I've investigated employee misconduct outside of my organization, been a management representative in alternative dispute resolution situations, and I've trained new managers on how to handle employee misconduct. I don't know the ins and outs of the police union or the specifics of the collective bargaining agreement that you fell under in 1988, but I'm pretty up to speed on what it should be now. And if I don't know something, I can run it by my wife, who is a senior HR investigator for an international company who has way more experience and expertise than I do. She's forgotten more than I'll ever know, and is an expert in both America and Canada. I'm sharing this in the hopes you just unclench a little and stop acting foolish. It doesn't reflect well on you.
 

Steve

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The lack of an HR department or the ability to do that is more of an indictment on the police department than anything else mentioned. I hope that this is no longer the case (although now that I'm thinking about it, I do know of a police officer that was forced to "Retire" early due to reporting unethical behavior, which for his sake I won't go into detail about. So still an issue in 2010).
100%. I'm actually really glad to hear these stories coming to light because for years, the prevailing philosophy seemed to be snitches get stitches. And that's not sustainable. You can't fix a problem if everyone involved is in on the cover up.
 

Steve

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Thats kinda the point I was making to Steve. Just in the last 20 -30 years Law Enforcement has changed so much. Im sure the way things went down in the 80s are totally different then they go down now.
I'm optimistic that in 10 years, the BLM protests and a lot of these issues we're working through now as a society will result in a stronger, healthier police force, that's better for everyone, including the police.
 

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No. The Constitution is ABOVE ALL State laws, acts and statutes. Nuances affect those who allow public servants to talk legalese to them. Once they instill doubt in you, you're set up to put yourself under their jurisdiction, which can only happen if you consent. It's really simple. But Americans have allowed themselves to be subject to deception. This is the reason police departments and LEO are being held accountable through legal action. People are waking up and not taking the abuse.
You are mostly correct. You are correct that the Constitution is above state laws. Everything else after that is wrong in regards to stopping and identifying.

Amendment IV
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".


Courts have ruled that police stopping someone is a "seizure", there is no disagreement on that part. The US Supreme Court interprets the US Constitution and makes rulings on how to enforce and interpret it. It also looks at how states pass laws and if the laws fall within the scope and intent of the Constitution. Courts have ruled that certain "seizures" are not unreasonable following certain guidelines, in this case stopping someone and having them identify themselves given a certain set of circumstances. The laws that I referenced are not considered "unreasonable seizures", and are within the proper scope of police duties. The courts get to decide reasonable or unreasonable NOT YOU.
 

Steve

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It is brilliant how you feel you have the capacity and information to have a clue what happened.

1 is just ludicrous assumptions.
2 is correct
3,4 you are bizarrely off base and just blindly swinging. Dude.
5 is correct

I will not oblige you with the full story. You obviously would not understand it and make your own story anyway.

I'm actually not all that interested in the story. The point you make is well made. We all know enough to be able to say with confidence that, regardless of the details, your story highlights some of the systemic concerns raised by me and others in this thread. And as I and others have said, it's great that we seem to be moving away from these kinds of dysfunctional situations and that police departments are headed in a more positive direction.

We're still talking about it only because you are so emotional and looking for offense when you respond to me that you literally contradict yourself and can't keep your story straight. I think you might be happier if you just put me on your ignore list. I won't take it personally if you do.
 

ballen0351

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I'm optimistic that in 10 years, the BLM protests and a lot of these issues we're working through now as a society will result in a stronger, healthier police force, that's better for everyone, including the police.
I think there have been some good ideas proposed by both sides of the debate regarding changes in law enforcement but people are so dug into their beliefs they won't listen.
For example the "send a social worker" idea. My first response from the police side of the brain says that stupid they will get killed. BUUUT the more I think about it I agree with it sort of.
Law Enforcement has become the catch-all for people when they don't know who else to call. It's 4 am and there is a dog barking and animal control is closed so call the police, It's Sunday afternoon and there is a homeless guy panhandling in front of the business area well social services is closed call the police. An autistic adult is having some issues at a movie theater call the police. Well, sometimes the police are not the best organization to be called. Our knowledge and resources are limited.
Every special interest group alive wants the police to be an expert in their cause. I deal with that at work now. Im the only former law enforcement on our team and the others get so frustrated that cops don't pay more attention to "our cause." I have to remind them that we are just one of 50 causes that demand an officer's attention. So while it may not always be "social workers" being sent if we stopped making the police the "I don't know who else to call so I called you" for non-police matters and instead have other orgs either govt or non-profits respond to non-police matters, it gives the person in need of help better-trained people for that particular issue they are dealing with and it frees law enforcement to focus on actual crimes.
 

dvcochran

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I think there have been some good ideas proposed by both sides of the debate regarding changes in law enforcement but people are so dug into their beliefs they won't listen.
For example the "send a social worker" idea. My first response from the police side of the brain says that stupid they will get killed. BUUUT the more I think about it I agree with it sort of.
Law Enforcement has become the catch-all for people when they don't know who else to call. It's 4 am and there is a dog barking and animal control is closed so call the police, It's Sunday afternoon and there is a homeless guy panhandling in front of the business area well social services is closed call the police. An autistic adult is having some issues at a movie theater call the police. Well, sometimes the police are not the best organization to be called. Our knowledge and resources are limited.
Every special interest group alive wants the police to be an expert in their cause. I deal with that at work now. Im the only former law enforcement on our team and the others get so frustrated that cops don't pay more attention to "our cause." I have to remind them that we are just one of 50 causes that demand an officer's attention. So while it may not always be "social workers" being sent if we stopped making the police the "I don't know who else to call so I called you" for non-police matters and instead have other orgs either govt or non-profits respond to non-police matters, it gives the person in need of help better-trained people for that particular issue they are dealing with and it frees law enforcement to focus on actual crimes.
Very well said.
I does speak to a another level of bureaucracy and the "there should be someone to do this for me" mentality.
Instead of maintaining clearly defined lines and using common sense, maturity, and intelligence to deal with things themselves it seems the more liberal minded people keep wanting to add more top heavy mass and carve up the existing, adding to an already chaotic society.
 
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