With modern policing, there’s more than meets the eye
I completely agree with Bob Roegner’s column from July 17 in regards to the hiring of additional police officers for Federal Way, and the message that may send to Black and minority residents of the city.
As a white senior citizen, I have no concerns about policing because, after all, the police are there for me, given my outward appearance. But I am also the mother of an African-American son and two Black godsons, and I was a single parent living in central Seattle in the 1980s and 1990s when my son was a teenager.
Although there were clear conversations with my African-American friends about Black teens and the police, and I had a number of serious discussions with my son about how to “stay safe,” there were still two very negative confrontations before he was 19. Both situations were escalated by the officers involved, and the second incident involved the threat of deadly force and a police report that was absolutely shocking in its omissions.
At no time was my son a threat to others or himself — rather the incidents reflected the kind of horseplay you end up with if more than two teen males are left on their own for a period of time. As a result of our own experiences, and the ongoing national pattern of injuries and deaths of people of color at the hands of police, I take the subject of responsible, intelligent policing — that is, policing that respects all communities and citizens, and which limits the use of force on all civilians — very, very seriously.
And while the corporate, big city media continue to bring us the details of the most lurid crimes and deaths, the truth is, as Mr. Roegner states, that for the most part crime has been declining across the country. In many respects, TV reporting is at fault for using crime to attract “eyeballs to the screen,” but the secondary result is that the general public becomes more fearful of crime, often without a solid basis. And TV entertainment in the 21st century has offered up police shows in which detectives and others are primarily noble, moral and heroic, when instead individual officers can also be mistaken, rude, biased, or corrupt — or have mental health issues.
We should also remember that every police officer is expensive. That expense is easily justified by the job and the possible risks, but extra officers take away budgeting from other city services, which I find as much or even more vital, and in which most city employees are typically paid less than police officers.
For example, the natural environment is not only necessary for our enjoyment, recreation and relaxation, but criminology studies are showing that neighborhoods with greenery and plenty of trees have less crime of all kinds than neighborhoods barren of greenery. The Federal Way parks and grounds people who maintain the city parks and natural areas are thus also playing a very important role.
As a second example, the Federal Way Community Center appears to have excellent management and employees. Although temporarily closed, the FWCC provides vital community-building services, such as all kinds of exercise opportunities for young and old, child care, opportunities for those who are developmentally disabled, senior activities, distribution of meals, etc. Emphasizing community services that keep families and children healthy and stable will lead to less criminal activity. We need to prioritize those services.
There is more to modern policing than meets the eye, and given the higher costs exacted on minority and marginalized communities, we urgently need to examine what public safety means to us and our fellow citizens, and to support the efforts for equal justice and equal treatment for all.
Lorie Lucky, Federal Way
Fire levy needs our support
Regarding South King Fire and Rescue’s proposed Prop. 1 on the Aug. 4 ballot, your readers additionally should know that it replaces the existing Maintenance and Operations (M&O) levy expiring this year.
Voters approved an M&O levy, for four-year periods, in both 2012 and 2016. State law allows voters to supplement the basic fire district levy. This supplemental levy is necessary to provide adequate fire protection and emergency medical service in higher-demand, urban communities, such as Federal Way, Des Moines and West Auburn served by SKFR.
Prop. 1 also will provide resources to help fund $5 million in capital equipment and facility replacements needed over the next several years, including four fire engines nearing the end of their reliable service, at 20 years old.
Other SKFR capital replacement needs include personal protective equipment (PPE), rescue tools, and radios and other technology devices. Prop. 1 has no opposing argument in the voter pamphlet, and warrants our support to sustain SKFR’s existing emergency service level during the unprecedented health and safety risks currently faced by its residents.
Dave Berger, Federal Way