It’s fairly unusual when a person is blamed for being the victim of a crime. But that’s exactly what the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association says about the recent robbery of former Phoenix mayor and current congressional candidate Greg Stanton. The Association is the union representing the rank-and-file police officers. Their position appears to be that Stanton failed to hire enough police officers while mayor, hence any criminal activity in the city – including the recent robbery of Stanton by a man carrying a hatchet – is Stanton’s fault.
We don’t want to get overly technical, but the union’s argument hinges in part on the proposition that a 10%, 20% or even 50% increase in the number of police officers city-wide would have absolutely stopped this robbery. That’s quite an assumption, particularly since the robbery in this case appears to have been a random act by a person may well have been mentally unbalanced. The robber has not yet been apprehended.
On another level, the union argument presumes that Stanton, while Mayor of Phoenix, had unbridled authority to hire as many cops as he wanted. Of course, the failure to expand the force was the result largely of the economic recession beginning in 2008. We assume the union isn’t blaming Stanton for that. The recession led to a hiring freeze. And further, the union appears to assume that Stanton had unilateral control over hiring decisions. In fact, he represented just one vote among the nine-member Phoenix City Council.
No one is arguing that crime is good, or that higher crimes rates are something to be sought after. And the fact is that last year, violent crime in Phoenix was up by almost 10%. That’s a pretty steep increase, especially when compared to the national average, which, according to the FBI, showed a decrease in violent crime during the same period of almost 1%. But those figures do not address the issue of the effect, if any, of increased police hiring and lower crime rates.
While you may agree that it would be a good thing to add more officers to the Phoenix police force, the union’s jab appears to be nothing more than glee over the fact that someone it disagrees with has been the victim of a crime.
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