Editorial Cartoon: Hazard Pay for Police

It’s too easy to make this about race and money. It’s really about providing the infrastructure we need.

At first glance, the police union’s request to have hazard pay seems like an endictment of a lawless and uncontrollable West-side. When I first read the reports, I imagined a cop saying “I’d rather be back in Afghanistan than patrolling West State Street”, but it sounds more like “this is where the crime is and I could use some help out here”.

For me, the real question is: Do police catch criminals or keep the peace? They are two different things. If police catch criminals, then it matters less where those police are stationed or how many there are since catching criminals is an ex post facto proposition. On the other hand, keeping the peace requires that police engage their community and act as part of the social infrastructure. Catching criminals allows a smaller bottom line on the city budget, but a higher cost to everyone. Keeping the peace is expensive and labor-intensive, but makes all the difference.

 

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