Volunteers vs Public Employment

SUBHEAD: Public Employees have little idea of the cutbacks around the corner or that they and their budgets are non-essential. Image above: KPD officer displays automatic assault rifle to Asst. Chief Roy Asher (c), while Chief Darryl Perry (r) looks on. Photo from article. By Juan Wilson on 18 May 2010 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2010/05/volunteerism-vs-public-employment.html) I was appalled yesterday to read in TGI about the KPD display of weapons and military style equipment at Kukui Grove Mall on the weekend (see article below). For what possible confrontation with members of our community are they arming themselves for? Breaking into the banks? Taking over the island? To me it points to a distorted set of values and the misdirection of massive public funds for no appreciable gain. It brought home to be the basic question of why continue to fund this idea of public service when we are going broke. In 2007 in In Fremont, California, the average pay for firefighters was $137,404, and average overtime pay was $29,242. Usually pay soars in the last few years of service, to enable the highest possible retirement pay. Today California is broke and is making choices between running prisons systems and school systems. The outlook is bleak for those employed as public servants. Not just in California, but everywhere from Athens to Honolulu. What possible solutions are there to continue vital services that are now unaffordable? It's actually quite simple... we need volunteers. When I grew up on Long Island, New York, in the 1950's we did not have fire departments made up of paid professionals. In Nassau County, which had a population about the size of the State of Hawaii, fire departments were made up of volunteers. There was no premium overtime pay. There were no retirement pensions to pay in perpetuity. Of course, these volunteer departments had to have equipment that cost real money: ladders, hoses, uniforms and trucks. That was solved by everything from bake sales, chicken barbecues, business donations and interdepartmental tournaments. My dad was a volunteer for the East Meadow Fire Department. He was a doctor and got to ride the "Galloping Ghost". The Ghost was a big white mobile hospital truck used by several local departments for disaster calls. My dad's volunteer work earned him a siren and flashing red light mounted on the grill of his car. I once drove his car down Sunrise Highway with the siren and flasher and understood one really satisfying perk granted our volunteer firemen. For the 100 history of the Port Washington, Long Island, volunteer fire department see http://www.pwfdhistory.com/department.html. The point is, people then thought it was their duty to serve the community. These firemen also loved the excitement of fighting fires. They appreciated the camaraderie of the department. And they were honored by the community. High paid professionals don't necessarily do a better job. This goes for more than just fire fighters. Given the dire economic future for public funding of services, we should perceive as endangered much of the professional work of policemen, teachers and public works employees. What cannot be paid for will have to be made up by volunteerism. In the case of police, much of their work is assigned to the squad car and the regulation of traffic. Police spend too much of their time on pursuing non-victim crimes like helmet and seat belt infractions or enforcing antiquated laws restricting the use of marijuana and other non-addictive psychotropic drugs. Police make the case that they are fighting and need to be prepared for acts of terrorism and home grown insurgencies. For this they need military type equipment, training and extra pay. They want automatic weapons, tasers, armored trucks, and high tech equipment. That is not what the public needs from police. A combination of neighborhood watch groups and a voluntary constabulary could do the most of the needed work of today's paid professional police department: handle domestic disputes, teenage vandalism, petty crimes and the like. For more dangerous arrests we could use a professional marshal in each community to work with volunteers (posses). Would such volunteers be subject to corruption. Yes, just look at our current system to see how bad it could get. At least we wouldn't be paying for armored trucks, automatic weapons and SWAT gear that could be turned on us. For an idea of where public works jobs are heading check out the neighborhood activism of City Repair (http://cityrepair.org) in Portland, Oregon. As for the role of public schools in "educating" children from toddlers to young adults... those days are about over. As is done today in Amish country one room school houses, most universal education will soon be reduced to volunteer instruction in the 3R's (readin', writin', and 'rithnmatic). The need for young people learning and performing chores on farms and learning trades in workshops, as they did in the 19th century, will be paramount. Whether it is planned or not, the once "safe" public sector jobs of America are threatened with extinction. Job openings will dry up. Pensions will not be paid. But those in the middle of careers will likely be hurt the most; they are over extended and expecting the gravy train. Sovereign debt is engulfing us worldwide. Hawaii is not immune. Soon we will see either the rise of volunteers or the disappearance of services. Take you pick, choose your role.
KPD Rolls Out Heavy Equipment By Dennis Fujimoto on 17 May 2010 in Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_ded16138-6182-11df-978b-001cc4c03286.html) Kauai Police Assistant Chief Roy Asher said he asked KPD volunteers to dress in as many of the different uniforms the department has available.

This was just part of the special Police Week exhibit, Saturday, at Kukui Grove Center where shoppers could get up close and examine the array of equipment and resources available to KPD.

This community outreach was the highlight of KPD’s National Police Week celebration, an event observed by police departments across the nation, many taking the opportunity to remember fallen officers in the line of duty.

Earlier in the week, the department expressed its appreciation to its staff with a luncheon at police headquarters.

Shoppers inspected the vast array of equipment, vehicles and weaponry available to KPD officers to ensure the safety and well-being of Kauai’s communities.

One of the lesser-seen vehicles is the van used to transport prisoners to and from the police cell block. The secured van, separated into two areas, one for males and one for females, was a popular resting spot for keiki who unknowingly climbed willingly into its secure holding area.

The mobile incident command vehicle and smaller and more specialized all-terrain and utility vehicles were joined by the familiar blue-and-white patrol units for eager keiki to check out.

Police officers visiting from other cities also took time to get better acquainted with Kauai police personnel, comparing notes on how Kauai’s law enforcement community compares to some on the Mainland.

Joining the KPD exhibit, Sherri Sanchez-Holcomb of the McGruff Safe Kits program and the Hawaii National Guard community outreach program had information available on a comprehensive ID system as well as drugs and the prevention of substance abuse.

McGruff the Crime Dog, already penciling in his appointment for Tuesday’s DARE graduation at the War Memorial Convention Hall, was joined by his real-life KPD canine, a German shepherd which was muzzled as a precaution.

The employees of the Kauai Police Department, in full understanding of the “Aloha spirit,” are committed to enhancing the quality of life in the community, states the KPD mission statement.


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