By Harold Flescher
The United States has an increasing crime problem. Our cities are becoming less and less safe and children the new targets.
We've known all along that more police are needed, as well as a stronger justice system and more prisons. Maybe prisons won't help rehabilitate, but offenders are locked up and kept away from me. A vast majority of Americans, the honest folk, would gladly accept this solution.
Our politicians, geniuses that they are, have finally caught up with both the obvious and the feelings of the honest folk. From President to Mayor, you can now hear the "more police" theme. Unfortunately, in the background is the low but constant drum of "more taxes" to pay for this solution. Wake up! More police are already available.
When I began driving, speed limits in most states had an "or reasonable and proper" attached to the posted limit. You were ultimately responsible for using your own brain to determine and justify safe speeds. And the police were responsible for using their brains in law enforcement. Their job was to maximize road safety.
In the 1970's, this country went on a "lower the speed limits to save fuel" binge. It was a band wagon happily joined by the "speed kills" freaks. They were more than willing to "ignore the facts, since this problem is too important to let facts get in the way" (paraphrasing Al Gore's statement about global warming).
Now, the fuel crisis is well and truly over. The data show that increasing speed limits from 55 mph to 65 mph (and the generally increasing average speeds) has not created the carnage predicted by the "speed kills" pundits.
So why have we continued to have speed limits on main and secondary roads that are inanely slow? Why do we devote a large portion of our existing police forces to speed limit enforcement? It seems pretty obvious. They have turned them into tax collectors. We have asked them to stop using their brains and become radar gun tax collectors. And our politicians, always looking for more taxes and more votes, ignore the facts that don't fit their paradigm.
That's the crux of my argument. A large part of the so-called "more police" we need are already employed by our police departments, but they're being used as tax collectors instead of as police officers. Police are needed to ensure "reasonable and proper' speeds and safe operation, but not in the numbers out there now. On a recent trip along the Massachusetts Turnpike, I passed 6 radar traps and 6 or 8 rolling police cars. These plus others on patrol that day and those that spent the day in court as a result of previous tickets leads to a whole lot of policemen that could better be used for the real issues of public safety.
We already have the trained and experienced police we need to improve public safety. Let's use them to do what they were hired to do, provide increased safety for the honest folks. If this is going to cost us something, let it be the taxes we lose from unissued traffic tickets. Don't be fooled by politicians that say we have to have higher taxes to hire more policemen.
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