Respect for the law, and the law’s respect for us
A police officer’s job is extremely dangerous and difficult. The police are obligated to preventing those people in our community who might do us harm from doing so. They are who we call when we are under attack or under threat. The police serve to ensure that Lynnwood remains the wonderful place to live that we all enjoy. It is a position unquestionably worthy of respect.
The police are proud servants of the city, and it should be clear that it is their goal to ensure that each person is treated fairly, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or financial situation, amongst other things. Police officers of all variety need to be given the tools necessary to de-escalate dangerous situations, to communicate with residents who might suffer from mental illness, to work with people in poverty or suffering from addiction, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to become contributing members of our society.
Winston Churchill (and Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, of course) remind us that with great power comes great responsibility. It would be more apt to say that because the police have great responsibility they must be afforded great power. It must be apparent that this power is being used to the benefit of every resident of Lynnwood.
There are trainings available to help police work with people suffering from addiction and mental illness, programs in which police officers act as mentors to young residents, and many other ways in which our officers can engage with the city as stewards of community, respect, and well-being. Engaging in trainings and programs aimed towards these ends would serve to ensure respect for our police by the community, by demonstrating respect for the community by our police.
Fines Cannot Replace Revenue
Our city must not rely on the use of fines to pay for basic services. As a society we ought not be funding our police, fire, and civic ventures with money raised through infractions. Should we be lacking in money to fully fund these operations, other sources must be sought.
The reason is that if our resources do depend on such funds then there will be pressure to increase the amount collected in that manner. This leads to the policing of certain areas and infractions not necessarily for the safety of the city, but for the benefit of the treasury.
We need to ensure that fines are imposed only as a means of deterring people from committing infractions, that community service, flexibly scheduled, always be made available as an alternative, and that any money collected is used specifically for the deterrent of those crimes by which it was collected.
Incarcerated People Should Be Given Opportunity
It is justified to react to criminal behavior in a ways that makes our community safer. It is not justified to react in ways because it makes us feel good to punish someone. For example, it is entirely justified to remove access to the general society from people who commit dangerous or damaging crimes. It is not justified, however, to see that they suffer while doing so, and make sure they have no options when they get out.
This latter scenario serves no greater purpose. As a society we ought to strive to ensure all of our citizens have the necessary options to become contributing members, even if they have made mistakes. The gravity of the mistake should be consistent with the limitation of those options, and for some those options will be severely limited, but unless we can truly deem a human being hopeless we ought not remove their future by force.
Our citizens behind bars ought to be given access to courses leading to school and college credits, to certification courses that will give them the necessary experience to gain employment when they are released. They ought to have a transitional plan, backed up by community outreach programs and trained specialists. We ought not stigmatize all people who have committed crimes as unemployable, or worse, as non-citizens.
Providing these opportunities reduces recidivism, the percentage of people who return to incarceration after they are initially released. not only does this reduction save our city money but, as these programs lead to greater employment,the city will ultimately profit, financially and socially. Also, and just as importantly, it’s the right thing to do.