Jeanne’s Proposal for a Capital Improvement Plan
Public safety is the first priority of any government whether it is local or national. For us the Medford Police Department is the first line of defense against citizens taking the law into their own hands. A well-run police force can prevent crime. The street presence of police officers not only prevents crime but also lets the citizenry know, “We’ve got this, you don’t have to take the law into your own hands.” We integrated the schools now it is time to integrate the police department and move the law enforcement agency in Medford into the 21st Century. Currently they are housed in a 20th Century building that is inadequate for all officers, especially female officers. We no longer just lock up a drunk over night in this town to sober him up. We have complexity in our prison population as well. We have more female detainees to worry about. We have minorities who find themselves in the custody of law-enforcement more often than their white counter-parts. For most people it is not easy to talk about race and gender in law-enforcement or prison populations but they are a reality and become more so for Medford every year. Everyone needs to get behind both the New Police Station and New Officers.
Building the building is the easy part – though the most costly. We need one not only for the officers but whether we want to deal with it or not the prison population as well. We don’t like to think about it but we must. The hard part comes later when we have the sensitive discussion of race and gender and the evolving role of the police officers themselves. We build a new police station for 28 million if that is what it takes to keep our families safe. We build it with wheel-chair access, with gender equity, and technology that allows policing easier and safer. Black male lives are especially effected by the criminal justice system. We need to work on this subtle form of discrimination before they see the inside of a jail cell. We have black male children in this city and they are statistically more likely to interact with police with a negative result. Hiring black officers is not a cure all but it is a good start.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census Medford’s demographics looked like this: White 86.5% ; Black 6.1% ; Asian 3.9% ; Hispanic 2.6 %.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census Medford’s demographics looked like this; White including white Hispanics was 78.6% ; white only 76.2% ; Black 8.8% ; Asians 6.9% ; Hispanic 4.4% ; two or more races 2.7%. Also of note foreign born 20.9%.
Home ownership rate is 61.1%. Housing units in multi unit structures is 51.8%.
We are an urban city and a racially changing one. We also have a large rental population, which may preceive public participation as a threat to their housing status or not feeling as confident to speak because “we only rent”. So those of us with more need to speak for those who may not be able too.
Do you realize that this city of 56,000 people has only 100 police officers? Adding 12 new officers is not too much to ask. We can call them the Class of 2014 or at the very latest the Class of 2016. But sooner or later we are going to have to replace the old ones and I strongly suggest we hirer minority officers in such a number to be effective throughout the city. We should hire six black officers, three Hispanic officers, and three white officers for the class of 2014. The police union is also going to have to adjust to the changes in society for it is used to a seniority system and that works well when we are replacing similar people (i.e. white male for white male). Medford hires police officers for a purpose and that purpose must come first. This view will meet with tension I am sure. But Medford needs two women on each shift, not six on any one shift. Women are beaten, raped, or commit crime on all three shifts and that is why we as a community need them on all three shifts. The same is true for black, brown, and white officers. So we need two women on every shift, two black men on every shift, and one Hispanic on every shift. Union leadership is going to have to make adjustments as well.
I can talk about race and gender and the needs of this community so easily because I have been in those boots. I served with many minorities and in a MOS with very few women, sometimes the only women. Back in the dark ages (1983 during my time) both white and black women together made up 10% of the entire Army and in the enlisted ranks 42% of those women were black (black women only made up 6% of all American women). All together black women and black men made up 30 % of the U.S. Army (and were only 12% of the general population).
I highly suggest that you hire as many recently discharged veterans; black, brown, and white as possible. If you wish hire six vets and six civilians. Whatever moves this city forward.
We need to bring Medford’s Police Department into the 21st century.