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LETTER: Hidden, excessive costs in policing

LETTER: Hidden, excessive costs in policing

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Hidden, excessive costs in policing

While police and indeed the whole criminal justice system deserve some sympathy for the difficulties of a hard job, let’s take a moment to remember the excessive costs to taxpayers when mistakes are made:

1. Padding police salaries with lots of overtime pay for appearing in court. In some cities (hopefully not here) this is a large expense.

2. Lawyers paid to defend indigents accused of victimless crimes. In the local circuit court there is a daily parade of the accused who are then appointed lawyers at public expense, starting at $120 an hour—which is doubled upon request. Representing more serious felons starts at a rate above $640 per hour which, believe it or not, could be doubled, all paid by state taxes. (See VA code 19.2-163). Not the police’s fault, but still.

3. Court awards to victims of police brutality or reversal of convictions of the innocent can go into the millions, which the state often cannot pay, so it takes out bonds which are beloved by Wall Street.

4. Prosecution of offenses like marijuana possession which are really just efforts to enforce morality, not public safety or health and waste the police’s time.

5. Guns are a new danger we have created for police, who must assume for their own safety that there could be a gun in every car or house or on every person they meet. No wonder some shoot first and ask questions later.

We pay for this in lives lost, social upheaval and real dollars.

Robert Thomas


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