I keep hearing all the candidates talking about forcing the MPD and SCSO to work as metro units. That sounds nice, but having worked for both agencies, I know a little about the metro units. The county guys ALWAYS said they outworked the city and guess what the city guys had to say? Yep, it seemed to me that every metro unit was a freak, or that's what my pastor (Adrian Rogers) would have called it. He said, "anything with two heads is a freak." I agree. The county officers would tell a city commander they didn't work for him, and the city officers the same to the county officers. There were differences on methodology, planning and all sorts of other issues. The guys all got along, but the commanders would butt heads over what, when, where and how. It's just natural for commanders to try to implement their plan.
Director Godwin pulled the MPD's resources out of the metro units because of just such problems. The lines of communication and responsibility are much clearer when there is one commander who gives clear, concise, data driven directions. Since pulling out of metro dui, the MPD has been making many more arrests than before. Not creating a metro-narcotics unit is one of the best things to happen in law enforcement. OCU has got the criminals on the run with Blue Crush and now they have the new CyberWatch program that lets them target warrants within police wards, around apartments and also schools.
I think there is a workable solution to this metronization, and that is to give the enforcement responsibilities to the MPD. The current Sheriff doesn't know law enforcement from tort reform. The MPD's director has been there, done that and as a result we see the difference in the statistics. Crime in the city is actually down, whereas, crime is up in the county.
So, I think we do need to have a consolidated law enforcement effort. Let the SCSO run the jail and civil/courts and let the MPD absorb the deputies and continue the "Blue Crush" crime fight.
One example is the SCSO's Fugitive squad. They have about 55 officers from commanders to patrolmen. The MPD could absorb them and distribute the warrants to each of their ward cars, which would give us 24/7 coverage in every ward. The SCSO can only put a few cars per shift on the street. As for the other few enforcement officers in the SCSO,(there are about 327 total), they could be put into the enforcement effort of Blue Crush. The citizens would get better, more efficient, and more effective service.
I'm sure the deputies would love coming to work for the MPD, particularly those who are close to retirement. You see the MPD has a "drop" program that lets the officers retire 3 years before they quit working. Money they would have paid into retirement goes into a fund which they are allowed to take when they finally quit working. Some leave with over $150,000.00. The county's "drop" plan happens when they drop you from their rolls, and you "drop" dead a few years later. I asked someone in the county administration why the county didn't have a drop plan like the city and I was told it wasn't cost neutral. Hmmm, I think they just didn't want to have to deal with it. Meanwhile the deputies pay continues to diminish. I could go on and on about how under the current Sheriff, officers have lost money every year. So, to the officers of the SCSO I say, "Come on in boys, the water's fine!"
Metro? I don't think so. Consolidated enforcement? Sure, the MPD has over 2,000 officers, the SCSO 327. Remember, "the tail doesn't wag the dog."