Law Enforcement Funding
Police departments, along with other urgent and vital agencies like fire departments and other public safety divsions, enjoy the luxury of being among the last departments to be cut when funding is tight due to the necessity of keeping fire and crime prevention agencies in full effect. That being said, police departments can absolutely use other means other than tax dollars to fund their efforts, and often at the expense of criminals. While there can be limits, it is entirely possible and practical to fund police activities and duties without using public dollars and many are already in full effect in many departments.
One quick and easy to fund police activities is to seize assets used in the commission of felonious behavior and auction it off to the highest bidder. The proceeds can then be used to fund police activities. Examples of items that can be seized are monies used or retrieved via the drug trade, cars, houses, etc. However, there should be limits to this. Guns and other weapons should not be resold to the public and instead should be destroyed when the items are no longer needed for evidence. Houses and cars should be seized carefully because the people who actually own the cars might not be the people committing the crimes. However, if the person who owns the property knows full well what is going on, then no mercy should be extended. Loans and the need to get to a standard job should matter not (O’Matz, 2013)
Another way to raise funds is to raise the fees for diversions for crimes. This allows people to get a monetary slap on the wrist rather than an ongoing criminal conviction on one’s record and the money can be procured with little to no overhead costs associated with collecting the money. It can also perhaps lower recidivism and crime rates in general and this would lower the need for funds of any sort for police activities and efforts. For more serious crimes, diversions should be eschewed in favor of restitution above and beyond the monetary costs of crimes and the excess can go to the government. For example, if an criminal causes $500 in damage during a crime, the criminal can be made to pay $1,000 so that the victim is made whole and the police department gains $500 in revenue on top of that. All that is necessary to avoid this sort of “tax” is to not break the law, so it is not hard to defend and justify.
Another way to generate revenue, and something else that is already done by a lot of police departments, is to sell off stripped police cars and other outdated or equipment that is alright for civilians to own and operate. Police cars that have the sirens and other non-civilian gear would be fine and many people like the heavy duty equipment offered in Crown Victorias and Dodge Chargers (among other cars) that are no longer needed. In fact, the ubiquitous Crown Victoria is no longer manufactured or sold new to police departments (Petke, 2013). Beyond that, even gear and items common to all government options including stuff that has been upgrade, items that are no longer needed or used, and so forth like desks, fixtures, cubicles, and so on can be sold off. This is not specific to police departments but it can still be done nonetheless.
Another suggestion dovetails with an earlier suggestion, but is slightly different. People who commit minor traffic infractions and are not habitual offenders can be allowed to offer a donation to fund police projects and such. While it may make some bristle, it would work if the suggested donation was less than the fine that would result from the infraction being enforced. This could be an intermediate step from a simple warning and an actual citation. The guilty parties are not being coerced and it’s actually better than pleading out to a non-moving infraction (something a lot of departments do anyway).
Speaking of that, something a lot of departments do is they will offer, for first-time or otherwise minor offenders, the opportunity to plea down to a non-moving violation. The rub is that the same fine applies and those fines can be one to two hundred dollars even for something as simple as a red light ticket or a “California roll,” where someone comes close to stopping but does not quite get there. The same fine is collected, the person does not fight the ticket and thus require funds to be spent by the police and there is a certainty that the fine will be collected.
As noted in the introduction and elsewhere, police agencies should avoid getting too creative in raising funds and should not do anything that abuses the public or endangers them in any way. That is why reselling guns is a bad idea and selling them full equipped police cars is also not wise. However, most of the items and property that is used or seized by the police can be repurposed for other uses by the police without spending money (or too much money) and/or can be sold to the public for their own use and enjoyment. Even with the sensitivity to police over-using their powers to fine and seize, it is often perceived to be wise and more effective to punish criminals andthsoe that aid and associate with the same rather than tax people who work for a living. After all, criminals are often unemployed or under-employed and are thus not paying taxes and thus do not have “any skin in the game.”
O’Brien, Tim. “Speeding ticket plea plan on fast track.” Times Union. N.p., 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. .
O’Matz, Meagan. “Cops. Cash. Cocaine. How Sunrise police make millions selling drugs. – Sun Sentinel.” Sun Sentinel. N.p., 29 Nov. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. .
Petke, Craig. “Fleets of sleek new police cruisers roll in to replace Crown Vic.” Central Kentucky News. N.p., 28 June 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. .
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