About a year ago, I was pulled over and given what I consider to be a frivolous ticket. I managed to beat it in court, but it got me thinking about how many police we have dedicated to making sure nobody is doing anything “wrong” with their car or skateboarding where it is prohibited. It seems that the vast majority of the police force is out patrolling roads rather than actually helping the people who need it or stopping real crimes.
Speed limits have not substantively changed since the 1950′s despite the fact that our vehicles have improved immeasurably in terms of breaking and handling ability. Why is this? Just follow the money. Think of all the tickets that are written each day. Think about how much those tickets cost, and then consider the fact that only 3% of all citations are contested in courts. This pretty much just amounts to a huge tax that only a tiny fraction of Americans seem to question.
In fact, because of all the fear mongering out there, most citizens have been deluded into thinking we need even more cops to “protect our safety” by pulling over even more terrifying criminals who are endangering our society by driving with a headlight out, or going 5 mph over the speed limit. Can you detect my sarcasm? Good! To me, if our cops don’t have anything better to do than set up speed traps and give kids a hard time for riding their roller blades, we have far too many of them as it is.
After getting that ticket, and before I beat it in court, I wrote this letter to my Governor, local and state representatives. Not a single one of them wrote me back. I imagine that they have all joined in society’s collective fear, and just didn’t know what to think about a person who is asking for fewer, rather than more police.
I am writing this letter to ask that you please investigate any and all means to prevent drug trafficking within the state of Vermont. Drug abuse is a major problem, and controlling it will undoubtedly have a positive influence on the quality of life in this state.
Having said that, I am asking that you please evaluate alternative options to hiring more state troopers. The reasons I am asking this of you are two-fold. First, we find ourselves facing unprecedented budgetary challenges, and with each new officer costing tax payers roughly $70,000 for the first year alone, creating more police positions is simply not fiscally responsible at this time. Secondly, it frequently appears that the state police we do have often lack enough work to keep them busy. Countless examples exist of officers issuing frivolous tickets, or hassling folks who are doing nothing illegal, or even suspicious, but who don’t quite fit the mold.
I moved to Vermont from New Hampshire because I value my freedom, my individuality, and my right to be left in peace. Even though it is an unintended consequence of otherwise well-meaning initiatives, it is my experience that a larger police presence can’t help but run counter to these values we share as Vermonters.
Please don’t impose more financial obligations on an already over-taxed state. Please help preserve the sanctity we share as law-abiding citizens. Finally, please impose tough, no-nonsense sentencing standards upon those involved in the illicit drug trade, but don’t ask tax payers to fund a larger police presence that is likely to spend nearly all of it’s time patrolling roads, not removing the drugs from our streets.
Thank you very much for your time.
After thinking more about it, perhaps a better way to go about reducing the number of cops would be to lobby for higher salaries. If we demand that our police officers are paid more, the departments will be able to retain fewer of them… It would keep Mr. and Mrs. Paranoid feeling secure, and we could be more selective in the type of troopers we are hiring.