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[icon] San Francisco hiring civilians to do some police work - Patti
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Subject:San Francisco hiring civilians to do some police work
Time:12:45 am
San Francisco is hiring civilian investigators for some non-emergency non-violent crimes. The idea is pretty straightforward-- for crimes like car break-ins and burglaries, the police department will send out trained civilian investigators to take a report, gather fingerprints and DNA evidence, etc. The civilian investigators cost maybe 60% of what a uniformed officer costs, drive unmarked cars, and carry pepper spray rather than guns. They can respond to calls faster, and they save uniformed officers from a lot of clerical work.

The police union hates it, of course.

I live across the bay in Oakland, where we've just laid off 80 officers and the official police department policy is that they will not send anyone out to take a report for a non-violent crime. You go online and fill out your own police report, which I'm sure the department routes to /dev/null at their earliest opportunity.

To me civilian investigators seem like a huge net win-- they allow the police department to function more efficiently and provide better service at the same time. The objections, which mostly seem to have to do with the investigators testifying in court, seem pretty weak to me. The sort of investigative work that happens on these calls seems routine, and there's no reason you couldn't train a civilian investigator to do that part of the job just as well as the police academy does.

Discuss.
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schmengie
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Time:2010-07-27 11:14 am (UTC)
this one is simple for me....huge win. public unions just operate against the interests of taxpayers. Gavin Newsome is an interesting politician. I have seen him interviewed on TV and I like him.
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adb_jaeger
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Time:2010-07-27 12:45 pm (UTC)
The sort of investigative work that happens on these calls seems routine, and there's no reason you couldn't train a civilian investigator to do that part of the job just as well as the police academy does.

Exactly right. Plus, it's not like the chain of evidence is composed of academy trained cops from start to finish anyways.
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crayonbeam
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Time:2010-07-27 01:19 pm (UTC)
Training to the task at hand being equal, I don't require the investigator to bring a gun, because I already have my own.

Remember: when seconds count, the police are there in minutes.

I wonder how many people know that many SF cops are volunteers - not paid staff - and how they'd feel if they knew.

Those most vocal about issues like this need to go through the Community Police Academy before their opinions hold much weight with me. http://www.sf-police.org/index.aspx?page=1690 A free look into the exact training that is received by the people you are paying to protect you.
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rcfox
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Time:2010-07-27 01:43 pm (UTC)
A huge win. There's no reason why civilians can't be well trained for investigative work.
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mjosephb
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Time:2010-07-27 02:57 pm (UTC)
I wonder if they are well trained if they are still 60% of what a officer costs?
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whipartist
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Time:2010-07-27 04:54 pm (UTC)
I think so.

Police officers are trained in a fairly broad range of subjects, of which evidence collection is only one. A civilian investigator doesn't need to learn to control a rioting crowd, apprehend a subject, drive a police cruiser, handle firearms, arrest someone, deal with gangs, etc.

It's a little like the difference between doctors and nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners can handle a lot of routine stuff fairly inexpensively. Doctors do a lot more, but they cost a lot more.
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tom_bayes
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Time:2010-07-27 02:20 pm (UTC)
Just hire a bunch of Monks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk_%28TV_series%29
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mjosephb
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Time:2010-07-27 02:56 pm (UTC)
I have to think that Monk is not cost effective. He requires a full time nurse/assistant. He cannot use a computer. He does not work well with others.

He does have a very high solved case rate - maybe near 100%? (There must be one episode where he didn't solve the case, right?)
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dmorr
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Time:2010-07-27 03:16 pm (UTC)
Selection bias. He constantly screws up and doesn't solve cases, they just don't put those cases on TV. :)
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rmd
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Time:2010-07-27 04:16 pm (UTC)
good idea. this might work well with more use of auxiliary police.
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bellaballanda
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Time:2010-07-27 05:29 pm (UTC)
Mountain View is the same thing. When my car was broken into (and I of course was freaking out 'cause it was my first experience with the thing) they wouldn't even take the report over the phone on the non-emergency line. Instead, online I had to go....
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bldrnrpdx
Link:(Link)
Time:2010-07-28 01:40 am (UTC)
Any idea what the liability is?

What if the call turns out to not be non-violent? Or becomes violent, or an emergency emerges? What's the proposed plan at that point?
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whitebird
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Time:2010-07-28 04:46 am (UTC)
I think that's a big win, too. There's lots of times when "mostly trained" can handle as much as "fully trained" can. That's why we have pimply-faced youths.

It also gives people who are waiting for a police academy slot, or have gone through the training (such as from my college, where we have our own shooting simulation village and get police officers from all of the US coming and training, along with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed folks who think they are interested in being police officers) but can't get a full officer position, real productive and economy building work in a full police department.
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[icon] San Francisco hiring civilians to do some police work - Patti
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