Public Comment

An Apology and a Correction

Glen Kohler
Friday July 24, 2020 - 01:37:00 PM

Mayor Arreguin pointed out that my report that the City wants to hire 'rent-a-cops' to perform traffic duties is incorrect; that in fact the City intends to hire more City staff, not a private contractor. And yes, I did say as much in a posting on

Please excuse me for wrongly referring to the intended staff members as rent-a-cops. That was wrong. But the essence of my complaint is not wrong.

Traffic duties are best performed by trained professional police officers. 'Routine' traffic stops can and do turn into much more serious situations: when the person being stopped reacts with violence. Has just committed a robbery and stolen items are in plain view. When drugs or alcohol or extreme mental/emotional states are involved. When the driver is violating parole. When the other driver is unlicensed. When the stopped car has been stolen. When a disgruntled parent has illegally abducted a child. When a driver accelerates instead of stopping. 

Police officers are well aware that a traffic stop is a potentially lethal confrontation. They approach the other car with caution and vigilance; ready for anything that may happen next. 

It is in the public's interest to have real policeman and policewoman at the scene, instead of 'a City staff member' who lacks the training and the experience to deal most effectively with critical situations. 

Not incidental to this discussion is that real police officers on traffic patrol see much more than traffic violators. They scan neighborhoods and districts for the normal and the abnormal, thereby staying in touch with the communities they serve. And they are present to react to traffic and non-traffic incidents. 

Seasoned professional police officers see traffic stops against the the total law enforcement perspective. Their identities are less invested in the outcome of a stop. If they think a driver can be warned without writing a ticket, their judgement allows that option. Traffic patrolling city staffers are likely to have more incentive to write tickets than let well-intentioned drivers go. 

Hiring cops that are not cops ... is not the answer to this city's budget woes.