The taxpayers of the Oklahoma town of Sallisaw should be concerned about the potential cost of a lawsuit that was filed last week by Patricia Eymer against the Sallisaw Police Department. WorldNetDaily columnist David M. Bresnaham reported Eymer's story on Nov. 13. According to press reports Eymer was the victim of a home invasion by the Sallisaw, OK, police department Oct. 23, 1998. Unjustified police shootings, according to the Washington Post, have cost the District over three-quarters of a million dollars in the past few weeks and over 8 million in the past half-year. These figures were revealed in the second part of a five-part series that began Sunday, Nov. 15 with a front-page headline that read "D.C. Police Lead Nation in Shootings."
Besides the cost to the citizens, these two incidents are related because police officers, despite the federal government pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into law enforcement training, appear to be under-trained both in the use of firearms and in the proper procedures to determine when to use deadly force. Researching the Washington Post article on the Internet led me to a referral link back to a 1994 Post series on D.C. Metropolitan Police. The headlines from that series four years ago begin to paint a clearer picture of what happens when politicians design seven-second sound bite solutions to crime and violence.
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A review of the 1994 politics of law and order puts the matter in perspective. In the summer of 1994 President Clinton was pushing his omnibus Crime Bill through the Congress. That bill included hundreds of millions of dollars of federal pork to go to law enforcement. Money not only to hire more police officers, but also to equip police departments with the latest in electronic gadgetry and to also enable federal prisoners to participate in extra-curricular activities such a dance lessons. In August of 1994, a coalition of Republicans and pro-gun Democrats stopped the Clinton Crime Bill, H.R. 3355, in the US House of Representatives. For the rest of that month it became a photo opportunity struggle between Clinton promoting his Crime Bill in front of a background of uniformed police officers, and conservatives and pro-gun congressmen who pointed out the massive pork and inconsistencies in the bill. In the end Clinton was able to pass the bill by bribing representatives and senators with federal judgeships, Indian reservations and federal transportation dollars. Ironically the 1994 Washington Post series on D.C. police was published at the same time the Congress was passed the Clinton Crime Bill, P.L. 103-322.
The spin put forth by the press office of the Clinton White House stated that the 1994 Crime Bill would put "100,000 cops on the streets." In reality the federal subsidy only funded 20,000 cops nationwide. The truth was that total funding was allocated over a period of five years and established a federal scholarship program for persons interested in law enforcement. Only after the newly trained police officer spent the federal tuition voucher of $30,000 did the police department receive the $10,000 per year reimbursement for only the next five years. Thus the federal government paid for the training and the local or state police departments found that only 20 percent, at best, of each new officer would be funded.
In a bizarre manner the 1994 Post series predicted what would happen nationwide when the federal government imposes deadlines and police hiring formulas. Those 1994 Washington Post articles stated that as a result of a congressional deadline, the D.C. government increased the police force by 1,471 between 1989 and 1991 "in a way that hardly provided the best selection of recruits or adequate training for even the most trusted, committed and hardworking." During this period of time D.C. accepted almost all applicants for the police academy, including a drug kingpin who received his acceptance to the academy while in jail awaiting trial on drug distribution charges. D.C. accepted one out of every four applicants, while the national average during the period was one in ten. D.C. police academy cadets were inadequately trained and ill prepared for life on the streets and duty as a police witness in court. Of the all the officers hired during that period one out of 14 has been arrested since becoming an officer. In fact the D.C. police department has an overall rate of 19 arrests per 1000 police officers, compared against a rate of 3 per 1000 in New York City.
In a rush to get federal dollars, many police departments applied for funds for training and education in 1995 and 1996. But both the 1994 and 1998 Washington Post series on the D.C. police department is very critical of the training citing "inadequate training and little oversight." The Washington Post article does not mention if any D.C. officers have received educational assistance under P.L. 103-322, but Executive Assistant Chief of Police Gainer says, "We shoot too often, and we shoot too much when we do shoot."
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According to press reports that is just what the five officers in Sallisaw appeared to have done. Gone into a trailer home, on a no-knock warrant authorizing a search for methamphetamine and then shot a mother holding her child. Like their D.C. counterparts who have cost the District millions of dollars in legal settlements, the police officers of Sallisaw are now facing a federal lawsuit. Poor recruitment and inadequate training for police officers can cause taxpayers dearly; they also take a toll on human lives. The Eymer family of Sallisaw, OK and families of Sutoria Moore and Eric Anderson of Washington, D.C., all victims of indiscriminate use of firearms, can attest to that.