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Op-Ed: Police Done Right

This article contains opinions and/or editorial content.

There’s a lot of (rightful) outrage right now over the killing of George Floyd.  There are a lot of (correct) calls for an overhaul of police tactics and a high degree of accountability from law enforcement.  There’s also been a lot of “broad painting”.

Know Your Officers

Chief Wayne Smith was the first interview I did–even before the Chronicle went live.  And he regularly contributes to the Chronicle through his Handcuffs & Coffee column.

Lt. Bill Nichols spoke with the Chronicle recently, and discussed his hopes for his tenure in Lodi.  He, along with all the other officers, have been very open in their dealings with the press, and engaging in their interactions with the community.

Know Their Job

Every week, I receive the list of police activity.  I don’t publish it, because I don’t care to feed the gossip mill, but it gives me the opportunity to ask questions a keep track of what our officers are doing.  That’s the job of the press.

In a recent online discussion, several people stated “the police are your enemy; they’re not here to protect you, they’re here to arrest you.”

Here’s a quick list of what the Lodi Police have done in the past 10 days:

May 25 – June 3, 2020

  • Security (basic patrol, checking businesses are secure, etc.):  53
  • Responding to alarms: 3
  • Radar: 20
  • Animal1Including 2 interactions with raccoons, finding a lost dog, and taking a stray cat to the vet to be claimed: 5
  • Theft: 2
  • Ordinance Violations2mostly notices to mow the lawn: 3
  • 911 Error3Responding to a 911 call and confirming that it was dialed by mistake: 3
  • Citizen Assist: 1
  • Parking Violation: 4
  • Citizen Complaint 4Kids were blocking the creek with stones (something I’m sure many of us remember doing); they were talked to and removed the block: 1
  • General Contact5Notified parents that their child was in the hospital: 1
  • Investigation6Following report of abuse: 1
  • Open Door7When officers see a business or public building with an open door after hours, they check to make sure it’s legitimate: 2
  • Traffic Stops: 26 (4 tickets, 10 written warnings, 12 verbal warnings)
  • Welfare Check 8This can be something like “My elderly mother hasn’t answered the phone in 2 days, can you see if she’s alright?”: 3
  • Suspicious Activity9A car was seen with a gas-pump nozzle and hose hanging out of the tank.  Ooops!: 1
  • Road Hazard: 2
  • OWI: 1
  • Lost & Found: 2
  • Assisting Other LEO: 1
  • Traffic Control10Escorting the Seniors’ Graduation Parade: 1
  • Lockdown Violation: 1
  • Disabled Vehicle: 1

138 incidents.  The overwhelming number of which involved officers looking out for our community.  And even with 26 traffic stops, only 4 tickets were issued.

I could write a novel about all the things wrong with law enforcement in the United States.  But we can’t paint all police with the same brush–anymore than we can paint any other group with a single brush.

We, in Lodi, have what all those protesters are demanding in their own cities:  A police force that is engaged with the community, transparent and friendly with the press, actively seeking input and helpful feedback from residents, and honestly trying to serve the best interests of Lodi.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Including 2 interactions with raccoons, finding a lost dog, and taking a stray cat to the vet to be claimed
2 mostly notices to mow the lawn
3 Responding to a 911 call and confirming that it was dialed by mistake
4 Kids were blocking the creek with stones (something I’m sure many of us remember doing); they were talked to and removed the block
5 Notified parents that their child was in the hospital
6 Following report of abuse
7 When officers see a business or public building with an open door after hours, they check to make sure it’s legitimate
8 This can be something like “My elderly mother hasn’t answered the phone in 2 days, can you see if she’s alright?”
9 A car was seen with a gas-pump nozzle and hose hanging out of the tank.  Ooops!
10 Escorting the Seniors’ Graduation Parade

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