Community service worker model makes sense for community policing


Do you need to wear a badge and a gun to tell a resident to clean up the garbage in their lawn? How about taking the report of an accident scene or writing a ticket for someone parked in front of a fire hydrant?

The Village of Rib Lake answered “No” to these questions and recently passed an ordinance creating a Community Service Officer (CSO) position. The ordinance reads, in part, “The functions of CSOs may include, but are not limited to, traffic control, clerical service, assistance to motorists in locked out vehicles, complaints and animal control, village ordinance and parking enforcement, taking criminal and non-criminal reports, conducting station tours and taking fingerprints for non-criminal purposes. Other key features of the OSC are that, although they are in uniform, they have limited authority to arrest people and do not carry firearms.

In any profession, from medicine to banking, there is a hierarchy of positions and responsibilities ranging from low-level general practitioners with little authority to act independently to specialists in a particular field who can speak and act with authority. total. The application of the law should be no different. Having officers sworn in to enforce parking rules or patrolling the lawn is, in many ways, akin to a heart surgeon checking a patient’s ingrown toenail or a commercial lender opening a savings account for child.

In either case, it comes down to the question of the best use of resources and the possibility of wasting time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere. When it comes to increasingly tight municipal budgets, it makes a lot of sense to leave it to the police to catch criminals and civilian CSOs the tasks more related to peacekeeping and working with the police. residents to resolve complaints or show a police presence to deter people from making poor choices at community events. As CSOs are paid less than sworn officers and do not have as much overhead insurance due to the lack of handguns, they provide a balance allowing municipalities to maintain community policing efforts while maximizing costs. budget dollars.

Law enforcement has largely been a one-size-fits-all approach with sworn officer specialists filling all the roles. The creation of CSO positions makes better use of the resources of the department and also opens the door to other types of specialists who work in areas beyond the broken doors and the arrest of the bad guys who are part of the popular culture in film and television. .

CSOs allow departments to fulfill their mission of service while leaving sworn officers to focus on protecting residents and their property and taking down the bad guys.



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