Friday, May 02, 2008

All Hail the Chief

I live in a surreal neck of the woods.

We have community leaders and county supervisors who support hate groups but castigate the Police Chief.

We have people who demand the law be upheld but criticize our officers for following policy.

And we have people who care more about long grass in their neighborhoods than they do about the safety, reputations, and careers of our service men and women.

One of the newest complaints about Chief Deane is that he has not "not done anything about the illegal problem" when he could have prior to the passing of the "Immigration Resolution". He could have had people suspected of being illegal aliens picked up off the streets. But apparently, he didn't do enough of that to satisfy this crowd.

Why wouldn't he do it?

Well, now, I'm not a cop. Neither am I a lawyer. But it seems to me Chief Deane had some obvious reasons for doing what some people are calling "failing to uphold the law." Let's look at some of these, shall we?

1. Until recently, the police had little to no immigration training. Without training, interrogating people about citizen status could easily be construed as racial profiling unless everyone was being interrogated, which no one had time or personnel for.

2. The police force has never had cameras to document arrests and ensure proper procedures have been followed. This has been a long-standing problem that continues to jeopardize the force and our county.

3. All along, the police have been arresting criminals and if those criminals have been found to be undocumented, they reported them to ICE. However, until recently, ICE has never been so directly involved with the county police department.

Let's remember that Chief Deane has been the Chief since 1988. Prior to now, there has never been such an outcry to have him removed. Who are these people who are suddenly so interested in the Chief?

Well, we know the leaders of the pack are relatively new to Prince William County. We know there are socioeconomic differences between the new comers and the residents who have lived here longer, between these people and immigrants. We know there are factions and hate groups that have influenced our BOCS when there have not been before.

What could possibly justify this rebellion against authority (because that's what it is) when the Chief

1. has decades of experience that most of these people don't have and/or don't understand(myself included)?
2. was the only one in the county with the foresight to spot weaknesses in the resolution that would put our county and residents at risk?
3. was concerned with residents no longer reporting crimes because of fear?
4. ran dozens of community workshops and meetings to explain the policy (which is more than the BOCS ever did after dropping this mess on our collective laps)?
5. listened to (and took a bashing from) people who thought the police were doing too little and people who thought the police were doing too much when they are really just following orders?
6. has helped reduce the crime rate over the past five years?

If anyone should be removed, it is the people who have not supported the Chief or his department for upholding policy and law as it was written pre- and post-resolution.

But I guess I live in an odd region where the real outlaws take the stage.

In any event, I thank the Chief for being reasonable, for being intelligent, and for analyzing the situation before he shot his mouth off like some other people we can name.

In appreciation of Chief Deane......

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
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