Anyone who has been driving around town lately could not help but notice the bright red signs with the words "The Dem's Copped Out" printed across them. The term "Copped out" is referring to police budget cuts alleged by the Republican's.
This is also followed up by a website www.no2dems.com with a detailed description of the the Republican grievance with the Democrats.
As a side note is important to mention that the site is registered to the Milford Republican Town Committee, and its Technical contact is party boss Tom Jagodinski. The Milford police, or its officers, are not responsible for the quality or creation of its content.
Sorting out fact from fiction during the political season can be a bit challenging, because misinformation, blame, stealing credit and bogus exaggerations are what the two party political system has become in town.
This week was no exception, especially when a Republican national icon and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed a third party conservative. Palin did so after she had an epiphany and finally realized that the National Republican and Democratic Parties are essentially the same.
To get to the root of this public safety issue, and to really determine what is real and what is not, lets rewind a bit. Thus far the FBI crime statistics that I printed on this blog show a real decrease in violent crime. However, that decrease is accompanied by an increase in petty crime. Some can allege that this petty crime is theft due to the economy, others could argue that because we fail to secure our belongings that these crimes are really carelessness on the part of the victims but in reality I tend to agree that it is really a bit of both.
Being a former law enforcement person myself, I can honestly say that a reduction of petty theft will not be resolved by more security cameras like the ones that were the topic of "Solitaire Night" at the Republican GOP HQ, or more police officers.
The solution is an educated public, signage, and a public awareness program to remind people to LOCK THEIR CARS if they contain valuables. Common sense should dictate not to leave cameras, cell phones, wallets or purses unattended at restaurants while you wander off. Every time something is lost or stolen, and the police are called, the crime is reported, and the FBI enters those statistics into a database. However, by their own admission this database does not "reflect the quality of life in our community."
So yes, its true petty crime is high, but what does this have to do with police cutbacks? and when did the police cutbacks begin?
To answer this question I can go back to my own recollection of the facts. This started with Peter Spalthoff's press release. It is also important to mention that Peter was a former Trumbull police officer as well as this years Independent candidate for Mayor.
Peter hosted a poll on his website that favored not having police officer positions eliminated, and he also put out a press release on 5/25/2009 warning Ben Blake the Democratic leader of the Board of alderman to respect the wishes of Chief Mello and not cut the police budget or eliminate police officers.
About two months later Brian McReady published this article clearly reiterating the Board of Alderman's involvement in the police cuts, as well as Jim Richetelli working with the Alderman to make cuts, and negotiate police contracts to save the city money. One of those positions cut by this process was the downtown bike patrol.
Richard Smith the Chairman of the Democratic party, recently said that "Three vacant positions are still on the books and unfilled." This was also verified by the McReady article and then again by Chief Mello who said "the money is there and it will take time to get properly trained officers who have cleared their background checks into those vacant positions."
What becomes clear here, is that one Officer was "temporarily eliminated" that officer was a "bike patrol officer" who certainly will not be riding his bike this winter in the snow. Also it is true that we have the same amount of police officers as we did a decade ago, but crime has also decreased and by admission of Chief Mello the response times to serious crimes have "not been jeopardized." He did admit that if you are a the victim of a "petty crime you may have to wait a little longer."
This entire debacle by the Republicans to instill "Fear" in our citizens appears to be a rude political ploy to win votes. As peter Spalthoff said "this is not meant to be a "the sky is falling" hysterical warning" but unfortunately and much to the discredit of the Republican Party they have turned it just into that a political ploy to paint a weak face on the Democrats.
The Milford Police are doing a fine job with the resources they have and certainly are not being made weak. From the above mentioned articles it should be clear that both parties, and the Mayor's contract negotiations are the only things currently impacting the police department.
The simple conclusion to this post is that the entire "The Dems Copped Out" campaign is a baseless scare tactic, hopefully Milford's citizens have more faith in our police officers abilities than the Republicans do.