Thursday, January 31, 2013

City Disrespects Its Own Laws

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 6/15/2011

            Last meeting, I was pointing out that there are too many weedy, littered properties for one CSO to keep up with, even if he opened his eyes and read the City’s nuisance code.  It cannot help him that he wears a different uniform from other officers.  The regular police officer in his blue uniform is a picture of authority that everyone recognizes.  Our Community Service officer in his yellow-and-black looks suitable for leading a Community Service slave crew.  But he does not look like police, and that cannot help him in telling people to follow our code and clean up their mess.
            It appears that the City has downgraded the enforcement of its own code, by separating the officers that enforce it from the rest of the force.  It has gotten to the point where supporters of police say that police don’t enforce city laws; code enforcement officers do. 
Police, their supporters say, have more important things to do than enforce nuisance codes, forgetting one of the meanings of “police,” which is to clean up an area or cause it to be cleaned.  They also forget how little violence or property crime occurs during any given shift and what the bulk of the force is doing the rest of the time: traffic enforcement, trolling for drugs and drivers without insurance.  I’d rather have them walking our neighborhoods, telling people to clean up their properties.
Why has the City separated code enforcement from other law enforcement, and further disguised them by calling them “Community Service” officers?  My guess is that they don’t want to jeopardize the Public Safety levy.  They figure that city code enforcement is the least popular part of police work, and they try to separate that in the public’s mind from “public safety.”  They try not to enforce the city code against the vast majority of voters, but enforce selectively by complaint. 
But they cannot enforce the nuisance code, as opposed to the safety hazard code, very much against anyone because the City is among the worst offenders when it comes to growing and spreading weeds.  Nor can they enforce either code equally on a complaint basis.
Please bring our Community Service officers back into the rest of our force and give them back their proper uniforms.  Please have all of our officers read the city nuisance codes and enforce them on sight.  Before our City forgot and allowed others to forget the true cost of owning or occupying property, this was a remarkably neat and beautiful town.  Please give us that town back.

Published at Yahoo Voices

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