How should public safety figure into a community’s spending priorities?

As covered in the MPR News series “The Price of Safety,” tighter budgets are forcing many Minnesota communities to reevaluate the money they’re spending on public safety. Today’s Question: How should public safety figure into a community’s spending priorities?

  • Kurt

    It should absolutely be a priority. It is something an individual cannot do by himself and it benefits everyone. It is a legitimate function of government.

  • Josh

    Nah. After shopping a few “gun shows” I can purchase all the weaponry necessary for my bunker (I meant home) and provide the security for my personal and family needs.

    Oh wait.. the question was about “public safety”.

    Hmm that would cost money right? Money spend for the common good? I gotta tink about this for awhile. My head is starting to expand. Information overload I feel a ideological conflict coming on.

    My head starting to hurt, let me get back to you on this one.

  • Rich

    Wouldn’t spending money on “public” safety create a culture of dependency on the local and state government? It sounds too much like that European style socialism that I hear so much about in the presidential campaign. ;^)

  • Steve the Cynic

    Given that public safety is the paradigmatic example of a legitimate government function, we should consider whether what we’ve asked public safety agencies to do is actually improving safety or making us less safe. Legalizing cannabis, for instance, would save lots of money on law enforcement while also weakening organized crime rings.

  • James

    Public safety ranks right up there in the priorities.

    I am thankful that the funding decisions are mainly made at the local level. No dogma. Just straight cost benefit analysis, with real consequences for the decision makers too (after all their houses can be burgled, or burn down too.)

    And if the spending priorities get out of kilter, I can legitimately vote at the ballot box or with my feet.

    Per Steve’s comments below, I do think we spend too much preventing some crimes, that we can afford to let up on. Speeding comes to mind. And underage drinking. But that’s just my opinion.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Tangentially related to this TQ, I think the enforcement of unreasonably low speed limits constitutes entrapment.

  • david

    Spending for public safety? Next you’ll want to spend money on public infrastructure. What is this a socialist state? It’s not like by cutting taxes for the rich (who may not only have the most to loose because of a decline in public safety, buy also have the most to gain, or already have gained because of public infrastructure), and shifted the burden to property taxes, that the middle class has been saddled with the cost in a disproportionate amount. Nope my state legislator placed the blame squarely on my local government. Way to pass the buck hackbarth. Keep up the good work you useless piece of……..

  • Jim G

    A well regulated police force and militia is a responsibility of our constitutional form of government. How can this country or any country be ruled by law if there is no enforcement of the law? It can’t be. Fertile, Minnesota or Wall Street in New York City/State cannot exist without the rule of law. The rule of law is what civilization is built upon. Without the assurance that the cops are coming to help us confront and deal with law breakers, health emergencies, traffic accidents, domestic disputes, or massive BANK FRAUD there is effectively no law. Eventually the lawless vacuum will be filled by those who would offer order, any order, to those impacted by a lack of police community service. Private militia, gangs, or hired guns of the richest members of the community who would enforce the rule of law that benefits only the few will quickly fill this vacuum. Watch any western movie made in the 1950’s to see the likely result of community disarmament. “Shane” would be a good one to start with but remember the hero is a fictional character. Watch it and learn because the past is always present.

  • Jefferson

    Sounds like we need a gun mandate. How about we add a public safety penalty into our federal tax code for anyone who cannot prove they own a gun? Those people are putting the cost of police protection upon the rest of the population so they must be charged extra to make sure there are no free loaders. After all most people will need police protection at some point in their lives, right?

  • georges

    Government, at all levels, has failed miserably to “protect and serve”, as the saying on police car doors would have us believe.

    Many citizens, those who have never been robbed or had their home or business broken into, are blissfully satisfied to be complacently comfortable with the cop door braggadocio, but many know better.

    When you find yourself in an unpleasant situation perpetrated by a criminal, the first thing you realized is that there is only one person that is going to protect and serve you……and that person IS you.

    Criminals, in general, are not very intelligent. But, most of them are smart enough to commit their crimes where and when no police officer will be present.

    This failure of govenment is the reason for the rise in neighborhood watch groups. These groups are active everywhere, wealthy areas as well as the ‘hood, as everyone, no matter where they live, must protect themselves. Gated communities are one answer, the hiring of private security is another

    Indeed, no “police force” of any kind, anywhere, anytime, was ever organized with the express purpose of relieving the individual of his duty to protect himself. To protect and defend yourself, your property, your children….is a fundamental duty that comes to each of us at birth, and is not transferable.

  • Lawrence

    The fastest way to devolve from a democracy to a dictatorship or an oligarchy is privatize public safety, because ONLY THE WEALTHY can afford to hire a private security detail, that detail can be used to force workers to accept lower pay, to force citizens to vote for THE WEALTHY’S politician, and to remove any person from office the WEALTHY considers a threat to their interests.

    Before people say I’m going off the deep end on this, I give you, as an example, a current case in point — Afghanistan. As we know, Afghanistan is ruled by tribal warloads — warlords who PROVIDE security for the tribes, not the Afghani government; Warlords who get people out to vote, not the Afghani government. Privatizing public safety is a very, very, very bad idea, in the long sad, tragic history of bad ideas, and I will be there when people learn that lesson.

  • georges

    Tribal warlords are government. Tribal government. Same as the State is govenment.

    Private security, in a Capitalist country like the USA, is provided by companies seeking profits. Exactly the opposite of Tribal governments providing security in exchange for obedience to its power and/or religious beliefs.

    Now, there are outliers in America, providing security, such as the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, La Cosa Nostra, etc. These are also governments. Governments of Tribal criminals.

    Anyone can easily see from this example why Capitalism is preferable to government, and is more beneficial to mankind in general.

    Capitalism will replace government. We have evolved past the point of needing to be enslaved by a political ideal. Just as we earlier evolved beyond enslavement to a religious ideal.

    Ahhhhh……progress. Life IS grand.

  • Steve the Cynic

    And then, georgesjockamo, we’ll have plutocracy instead of democracy, and we’ll all be slaves of impersonal “market forces” instead. I don’t find that vision nearly as inspiring as you apparently do.

  • Dr. Bubba

    Question of the day time of death 11:18 AM. Thanks jackatrollgeorges.

  • Ann

    What is more important than safety? Maybe some of the things that police officers do could be handled by people with less training. Also, in my town, I see an ambulance parked at every high school sporting event. It seems that there would be a better way of handling this in a small town.There might be other ways of handling safety in a more efficient manner.

  • suestuben

    The gov’t is charged by the Constitution to “promote the general welfare” of citizens. It has done a poor job of that seeing that we have the highest murder rate of all first-world nations–we kill each other at a rate only seen in the most lawless, 3rd-world nations. Now that we’re spending our money on other things (like decades of war that we knew would put us in the red and for which there was no exit plan), our gov’t is willing to see more of us in the morgue.

    Why is it that the rest of world is able to keep populations safe but that America cannot? In Denmark they have less than 1/100th of our crime rate (per capita), and the same is true for the other Scandinavian countries. Perhaps we could look to other countries to find out why they’re better behaved than us. When we figure that out Washington might offer incentives to the states to bring crime rates down. States could work with counties to institute prescribed solutions within populations. Wouldn’t it be awesome to feel safe in our neighborhoods and cities?

    None of this will happen of course, because Washington is filled with the lowest form of life–people who care only about themselves and getting richer than the men next to them. So we will continue with our childish behavior–bickering and blaming, shooting and stabbing, weeping and dying–while the middle class gradually disappears and those we choose to serve us get obscenely wealthy. What a woeful waste.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Serious answer to your question, suestuben:

    That problem is not one that government, per se, can fix. There’s nothing Scandinavian governments are doing that, if ours followed their example, would change our violent crime rate. It has to do with culture and the society’s ethos. For instance, the reason there’s a high correlation between countries having strict gun laws and low violent crime rates isn’t because the gun laws are effective. It’s because a people that abhors violence expects its government to regulate dangerous weapons. Scandinavian culture is strongly communitarian, where ours is strongly libertarian. Danes, Swedes and Norwegians are raised believing that it’s important to be a good member of the community and to look out for others. Americans, not so much.