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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Officer Benjamin

Sounds like some former New Orleans police are learning some hard lessons from the Dallas Police Department - they're not wanted. However, chastising the individuals is like pulling leaves from a diseased tree. If the main entity isn’t treated, there will simply be more dead leaves. NOLA.com's article says,

Dallas Police Department Deputy Chief Floyd Simpson said a rigorous screening process exposed about 10 prospective police recruits from the New Orleans Police Department as possible "deserters."
What is not stated here is that a “rigorous screening process” is the norm for Dallas, and not some recently implemented post-Katrina policy. Like most other modern police departments, Dallas knows that being a police officer is not like other jobs, and the average citizen may not be able to fulfill the demands that come with police work.

In fact, to say that a police officer has “a job” is misleading, unless one considers the military or the fire departments as jobs. They’re not. They are lifestyles, with a totally different set of required skills.
"Being a police officer is one of the few jobs where you raise your right hand and take an oath," Benelli said. "When you take that oath you owe it to the community to protect and serve them, but you also take a vow with your wife. But if you left because you were scared and because the city was in dire straits, you basically reneged on your oath and shouldn't be a cop."
This whole thing reminds me a bit of “Private Benjamin” – the 1980 comedy movie that starred Goldie Hawn as a confused socialite in the Army, wondering where the condos are and worrying about her fingernails.

If the New Orleans Police Department doesn’t change its hiring policies, this caliber of officer will continue to undermine public confidence and place dedicated police at risk. Unlike Goldie, however, these officers are not funny - and there's little difference between the "looting and mayhem" officers and the deserting Benjamins. None of these should have been in the department in the first place.

What’s really baffling, actually, is how the NOPD managed to have the extraordinary officers who did (and continue to) perform their work so well. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to truly serve the public in New Orleans, knowing that many of your fellow officers should never have been allowed to carry a gun and badge.

One can only hope the NOPD officials will take some notes from Dallas, and stop trying to fill every vacant personnel slot with the first warm body that applies.