25.4.11

Tough on crime. False alarm police responses. Special interests politics.

http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2011/04/false-alarms-are-single-greatest-waste.html
  • In 2004 the Police Department received almost 62,000 burglar alarms
  • Of these, 97.2% or about 60,100 were false
  • Responding to these alarms required the time of approximately 45 Dallas Police officers
  • This false alarm rate was consistent with findings across the nation
  • In Dallas, 86% of the citizens and businesses without alarms are subsidizing alarm responses for 14% who have alarms
  • False alarm dispatches are the single greatest waste of law enforcement resources in the U.S.
  • 2004 police response time for priority 3 calls was about 32 minutes
The small minority being subsidized by police responses to alarms are extremely vocal and well-organized by alarm companies, who have lists with contact info of concerned customers that would be the envy of any political consultant. Plus, those with alarms almost by definition are relatively wealthier - after all, they got an alarm because they have stuff to steal - and therefore also more politically influential. By contrast, the 86% of Dallasites without burglar alarms who're footing most of the bill are unorganized, unaware of the subsidy, and may not even perceive they have a dog in the fight.
Vocal minority. Silent majority. Takes money to get elected. Uneducated voter population easily swayed by media advertising.
Dallas mayoral candidate and former Dallas police chief David Kunkle told the Dallas Observer that "verified response" for private burglar alarms is "good public policy and bad politics." He won't support the idea, not because he doesn't think it's a good one, but because he fears a tuff-on-crime backlash during a contested mayoral campaign. 

Remind anyone of the agriculture industry subsidies? Politically connected so-called "farmers" but really giant industrialized farming ventures with slick advertising take a dip into the public's pockets via their tax dollars, knowing they can always throw together some political advertising about how the "American family farmer" needs your help. Cheap water for that vocal minority. Expensive water for the silent majority of home owners and private consumers.

So how can we fight this? Transparency. Education. Being informed. Learning. Spreading as much information as you can about what happens to the money you pay the government for essential services and whatever special interests happen to have the best lobbying squad.

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