Home > Politics > Police Part 3: Money Talks

Police Part 3: Money Talks

I mentioned in my last installment that I would be discussing Police Part 2: Punishing ‘Maybe’, so here it comes!

The issue with police compensation is the same as with all forms of employment except with the added twist that it directly impacts our personal safety. If you ask the average cop why he/she is a cop, the answer will likely be “I want to help protect the community”. Well, if that was all there is to it, then they’d do it for free like Superman or Batman or any of the other popular super heroes. However, they don’t.  As it turns out – they’re human and like all humans they respond to incentives. One of those incentives is being able to afford a comfortable life and fulfill some of their wants and not just their needs.

The big item that meets this incentive is money. The general equation that has to be met to prevent endemic police corruption (in theory anyhow) is that the average beat cop has to make enough money and benefits that he doesn’t choose to leave the force for another profession, or start taking bribes and/or extorting money as an alternative form of income. The US, Canada, UK and other developed countries do a good job of meeting this, and they don’t have nearly the amount of overt corruption that poorer countries do because of it.

How do they meet this need?

To begin with – all officers belong to the Police Union. Every developed country has one. This union negotiates the compensation packages the officers receive. Here is what Phoenix Police officers get. As comparison, I work for a very cushy mega-corp that has some of the best benefit packages in the industry and my benefits are generally better, but my starting pay was considerably less and I don’t get to retire after 20 years.

But how does this union thing play out?

It’s like this – the officers join the union and pay dues. The union then donates to campaign funds for politicians and also for initiatives for new laws/regulations. The politicians, if elected (and they usually are), will insist on more officers and more pay for those officers. The initiatives will create a need for more officers. This results in more union dues for the union. With this extra money, the union can give its administrative staff raises, lobby more politicians and push more initiatives.

The unions are selling us things we don’t need so that they can get more dues. How is this different than extortion? It smells of corruption.

Is this what the average officer is looking to do? Probably not, and they are every bit the victim as the rest of us in this. However, in all the laws and regulations the unions push, the officers still have the option to not enforce all the laws to the letter – but to enforce the spirit of the law. They get in big trouble if they do that, and of course there’s the quota to worry about.

How this backscratching works

This cycle is so lucrative that we see “vampire” legal industries develop to feed off of the police/lobbying cycle. There is the lobby group MADD, who get a cut of the fines every DUI convict pays. There are also “substance abuse counseling” companies that only exist because DUI laws require convicts to go to them. There are driving schools (two kinds in Arizona) for every kind of moving violation. The most blatant abuse is the fact that if you speed and get a ticket for it – you can have it forgiven if you spend money at one of these schools where they give you the test and tell you the answers. And let’s not forget law firms that specialize in types of laws. They only exist because of silent outrage towards certain laws.

The safety of the public has been foregone in order to bleed the money out of the public that they don’t pay in taxes. If the police intend to “serve and protect” us, how can they not only allow, but encourage this to go on? I’ll explain that in the next section where I’ll talk about the concept of mercenaries.

Categories: Politics
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  1. November 6, 2010 at 5:21 am

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