Saturday, July 23, 2005

The government is setting the wrong priorities for the Police!

I am very supportive of the local police departments. I think they do a dangerous job and I think they generally do their job in a very professional manner. I appreciate the various police departments in this area.

That being said, our government that oversees the police departments and gives them direction is doing a dismal job of setting the priorities of these departments.

Allen County has a population of about 342,000 people. As of July 23rd, 2005, there are 6687 active arrest warrants for Allen County. You can verify this information for yourself. Please go to:


this website, Indiana's Most Wanted, tracks all of the outstanding warrants in the State of Indiana. It is updated daily. You can look and see the outstanding warrants listed alphabetically, you can generally see pictures of the individuals, you can see what crimes they are accused of, etc. It is a very informative website that is professionally maintained by the State of Indiana.

If you select just a few of the people the police are looking for you will see that they are wanted for a variety of charges including: Robbery, Assault, Battery, Battery to a Child, Domestic Battery, Child Molesting, Driving Under the Influence, Check Fraud, Probation Violations, and about any other crime that you can imagine. Not all of the crimes are major; some people have warrants for neighborhood code violations and minor traffic citations. Also, remember that these people are most likely not all guilty, they are accused of a crime and need to go to court.

It is obvious that Allen County has a large population of people roaming our streets who the police are looking for. These people are not under arrest, they are free and they may keep committing crimes. A person who is accused of Child Molesting could be out molesting other children. A person who has several outstanding warrants for Driving under the Influence is free and may keep Driving under the Influence and kill a citizen who is not breaking the law. You get the idea.

I am not sure how many outstanding warrants there should be in Allen County. There obviously will be some outstanding warrants no matter how much manpower the police use to serve outstanding warrants. I think a reasonable number might be a thousand; but, I am not sure.

What really gripes me is when the police are directed to setup checkpoints and check to determine if law abiding citizens are wearing their seat belts. If you are not wearing wearing your seat belt the police issue you a $25 ticket. The law abiding citizen then has to find the time to go and pay this fine. I am sick and tired of the "nanny state" we live in. The police should be serving outstanding arrest warrants and protecting citizens from violent criminals, not enforcing the "nanny state!"

While the police are issuing tickets to law abiding citizens for not wearing seat belts there are several thousand outstanding warrants that the police are not serving. Many of the citizens who are accused of the crimes detailed in the outstanding warrants actually committed real crimes that they need to be prosecuted for. The police should spend their time protecting the law abiding citizens of their community. That is the job of the police in my opinion.

Sometimes the police enforce their "click it or ticket" campaign with grants from The Federal government. I have an idea for the Federal government; leave law abiding citizens alone and issue grants for the police to arrest Child Molesters, Rapists, Murderers, and other violent criminals.

What do you think?


debbie said...

Here's a thought to ponder Mike. If you knew where one of these people could be found, and the warrant was for non-payment of seat belt violation fees, would you turn them in to the government?


LP Mike Sylvester said...

That is a VERY simple one to answer Debbie. No. I would not turn them in.

I also would not turn in a person who got a Neighborhood Code violation, was issued a ticket, and did not appear in court.

I think the police should pursue violent criminals and criminals who actively try to defraud others.

Doug Lambert said...

One question I have--is there any information about how many of these people are actually in Allen County at the moment?

As for the "nanny state," I think you may be putting the cart before the horse. Before we start repealing (or not enforcing) seatbelt laws, helmet laws, etc., you need to make it very clear that people who are injured due to this behavior will be on there own. They are raising our costs for health insurance, life insurance, liability insurance, and also our taxes (some of these people who become quadriplegigics or suffer brain damage due to their high-risk behavior will end up on Medicaid, which all the rest of us pay for). So until such time as "Darwin-award" candidates are excluded from receiving insurance benefits or Medicaid, I'm very happy to have such "nanny-state" laws enforced.

--Doug Lambert

Margaret said...

Doug has a point as to why most people think the "nanny state laws" are necessary. Until we can get the state out of legislating what insurance companies have to insure we'll keep hearing these arguments. In Germany the insurance companies state if you aren't wearing your belt "no insurance" if you're in a accident. A free market answer to the safety issue.
But more importantly why aren't your commentors answering the bigger question. Why aren't our police forces going after violent criminals? Because it's much harder to do that then to sit in a check point paid for by the feds. Look at your county budget. How much money is being spent on police protection?
What is the ratio of police to population? In cities it should be 2 officers to 1000 citizens. In Monroe county they are raising the budget 2.4 million dollars while not spending a cent on police protection. The current county force is 12 deputies. I've spoken to a local expert who says in our county we should have 18 deputies.
Our communities officials have their priorities out of whack. In Monroe county and the city of Bloomington all they care about are parks and mental health. In the city last year the parks budget was $28 Million dollars while the police are begging for 2 additional officers.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

I am not sure how mnay of the people with outstanding warrants are in Allen County right now. Commen sense would lead me to think that some of the people are not in Allen County. I would think that some people with outstanding warrants from other places are roaming around Allen County as well...

I agree that people who refuse to use common sense should have consequences for their actions!

The police should focus on violent criminals!

Anonymous said...

Hey Doug. it seems to me that the perfect solution to your worries of having to pay for people who engage in activities is less government not more. If people decide not to wear their seatbelts they are not decreasing your level of safety. It is not fair that you or I should have to foot the bill for these people, we need to limit the government so that we can have personal choice and personal responsibility. If people were more self-reliant, rather than always looking to the government to solve their problems you wouldn't have to worry as much about paying for an idiot that won't wear a seatbelt or helmet.

observedobserver said...

First off...seatbelt laws and helmet laws were not passed in order to protect the public. They were passed to protect the insurance companies...and they were
"spun" to appear that they were passed for our protection.
If someone wants to drive a car without a seatbelt or a motorcycle without head protection...they should be allowed to. People know that cigarettes can be deadly, as are either of the examples above, but they still smoke. It costs you and I more per year in higher insurance rates and taxes (medicaide dollars) than does people dying because they didn't use their seatbelt.

As for the allocation of the Police force...I see it as a total waste of time to set up seatbelt checkpoints. If you get pulled over for some other offense and you are cited for not wearing your seat belt...fine, give them a ticket. I personally would rather see our Police force hunting down alleged or know criminals. Herein lies another for the position. If the pay for policeman or fireman were where they should be relative to the danger and importance of the position, I think they might be a bit more motivated to actively pursue area criminals. How about some sort of "incentive" pay for the amount of outstanding warrants that an officer closes per month...? Think they might put a littler more effort into it them?

bill said...

mike - i'm glad they don't run all those warrents - i have one for a code violation that i have been fighting for over 7 years. once the sherrif stopped me to tell me abouta burned out trail light...he ran my info and also informed me about my outstanding warrent....and tole me another officer might run me downtown where i'd have to spend the, sometimes, (and i certainly hope in my case) those warrents are not aggressively pursued!

Mike Kole said...

The main point Mike makes here is correct: We all agree that police are necessary and a priority. What crimes they pursue is a matter of policy prioritization. It is senseless to spend community resources on non-violent citizens who have not caused a problem (drivers merely not wearing a seat belt) when there are violent offenders at large.

Resist clouding the issue. Intensify the call for sensible police priorities.

Mom of Dead Child said...

Hi Mike,

I read your Guest Column in the Pharos Tribune and do agree that there are far too many outstanding warrants. My son was killed by a repeat offender drunk driver and convicted felon just off probation for drug dealing. The killer also had previous warrants for non-compliance with court orders in prior cases. These warrants were outstanding until his drug dealing arrest, which was also the result of warrants. After his plea bargain and sentence that resulted in probation (as his character was so good and it wasn't in the interest of society to make him suffer the consequences of his crimes, seeing as he was not a danger to the community and all), his license was immediately suspended by the court as mandated by Indiana law. Only 9 days later he was pulled over for a seat belt violation. He was driving while suspended BUT the BMV had not yet entered the suspension into the system, SO the officer who was doing his job and risking his life (who knows what a frightened felon on probation might do during a traffic stop if they think they might go to prison for violating the gracious terms given by our courts?) did NOT know the driver was violating the terms of his probation, was driving while suspended, etc... Thus, the felon remained on probation, the probation department was not notified (do you think the felon was gonna tell them?), a seat belt violation ticket was issued and the fine paid in the neighboring county so no record went to the court where the drug crime was recorded, the BMV had a record of a seat belt violation but no system to catch the OBVIOUS driving during the suspension period and sure innocent citizen who was not breaking the law was killed at the hands of a seat belt violator. It was one of the killer's favorite law breaking activities and one he had been cited for repeatedly. He had received still another citation just a few days before he killed my son. I still wonder why he was so often pulled over for this infraction in so many counties. There must be some reason because only one ticket appears to have been at an enforcement check point.

A police officer did his job and had the Indiana courts and/or BMV systems functioned in a responsible manner, a single traffic stop for a seat belt violation should have saved my son from being killed by an intoxicated driver. That driver should have had his probation revoked for driving while suspended, he should have gone to prison as his drug dealing offense merits, and he should not have been on the road free to kill an innocent citizen who was wearing his seat belt. Traffic enforcement does stop violent criminals because it does stop intoxicated drivers who don't wear seat belts and all of the other criminals who do not wear seat belts.

If you check the court records of repeat offenders you will find that it is a common and frequent infraction amongst them. Whether they drive while suspended, revoked, intoxicated, without insurance, and/or they rob, burglarize, molest, sell drugs, batter spouses or children, they also do not like to buckle up...themselves or their kids.

Research the offenders in Indiana and the variety of crimes committed, including their traffic infractions. Research the antisocial personality aspects of the repeat offender. Talk to law enforcement about how many people wanted on warrants are found on routine traffic stops and how dangerous those stops are to the officers. One stop could have saved my son's life. The officer tried. My heart breaks for the officers, firemen, paramedics, and innocent citizens who had to witness the mayhem caused by a felon, the Indiana courts, BMV and the legislature who want to save tax dollars through probation and early release rather than keep our children safe, and the bar owner who profits from murder.

By the way...the killer was NOT wearing his seat belt when he killed my son.

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