Friday, November 02, 2007

Toys for Cops

Buried at the end of today's T-P glossing over of the Mayor's proposed budget was a couple of paragraphs about public safety spending:

Nagin's budget recommends spending more than $205 million -- 45 percent of all general fund revenue -- on public safety. The Police Department would receive $112.3 million -- up 15 percent from the $97.1 million approved for this year.

The proposal calls for new bulletproof vests, what Nagin called a pair of "Harry Lee-type tanks" and the "latest and greatest" machine guns. "We're going to have some 'shock and awe' stuff to take care of some of the criminal element out there," he said.

Nagin said pay raises implemented for police officers in the past two years have yielded positive results, reducing the attrition rate and boosting the size of recent recruit classes. With overtime, he said, an officer now can earn more than $60,000 after the first year.

"We're starting to recruit some incredible people," Nagin said.

"If I was just starting out in my career, I probably would consider being a police officer. I'd be a dangerous man with a badge and a gun."

Okay, nice to see an increase in spending, I guess. It's encouraging that cops will be getting bullet proof vests. I think it's a good thing that police will be paid.

Do we really need "shock and awe"? (Great to see El Presidente rubbing off on our boy)

How many murders are we going to solve with tanks? How many murders are we going to prevent with tanks? Same questions sub "the latest and greatest machine guns" for tanks.

Meanwhile, further up in the same piece, Nagin reveals the programs whose funding is tied to his plan to 2-mill tax increase. This will be the big controversy in his budget, as all of council has decided they won't support the "roll forward." The focus will be on funding for the Inspector General's office, which Nagin has pegged to the millage rates.

However in light of the enormous increase in public safety spending for tanks and machine guns, I think it is critical to note that also at risk of being de-funded because of the millage rate battle, is a proposed $1.6 million for "sports, cultural, and after-school programs for young people," and $500,000 "to improve youth services at the city's Juvenile Court."

Now I don't know what it exactly it means to improve youth services at the city's juvenile court and I don't know what kind of sports, cultural, and after-school programs we're being asked to fund. I do know that it's a helluva lot more appealing and useful to residents of New Orleans than two tanks and the latest machine guns.

UPDATE: I forgot to put this line by Ray Nagin in bold so I'll just do paste it again and put it in bold right here. "I'd be a dangerous man with a badge and a gun." No kidding.


The long, long road home,New Orleans said...

My husband looked at NOPD. Don't be fooled about salary. Starting pay is 30,000 and a recruit pays for his own gun and uniforms up front. Then they get a 500 dollar uniform allowence in the following year.

Yeah one could make 60000 a year but don't expect to get home alot.

NOPD is still not comprible to other cities whose starting salaries start at 39000 and up including gun and uniforms.

Bullet proof vests are good, but New orleans needs more officers not tanks, etc.

You won't get officers without salary and benefits comprible to other southern cities.

E said...

I could have assumed as much. The point is that I would favor a budget increase to the police department if it raised salaries, standards, number and quality of officers hired, etc.

Tanks and machine guns seems like they didn't think they had anything better to spend it on.