In my “News Flash: Nobody Crashed on The Antelope Valley Freeway” entry, I mentioned a single episode where a multi-car accident could be the catalyst for drastic measures in highway control. The first of these measures to “fix” the crash crisis would be to add more police patrols on the freeway.
We Need More Police Patrols!
At what cost? Contrary to popular belief, police are not free protection. So, in order to have more police patrols on the Antelope Valley Freeway, we have several considerations.
1. We could hire more officers and buy more motorcycles or cars, equipment, guns and ammo. Just how much does a single added officer cost per year? Well, after reading this OC register article, I will estimate the annual cost to be at least $120K per year in Southern California (and this is a modest estimate…it does not include the top-end estimate of health care, retirement, education “bennies,” which of course the officer would receive). But that is just salary. Let’s not forget the vehicle cost, uniforms, ammo and gun. The cost of a good police car would be at least $35,000 according to this yahoo discussion (maybe higher according to this piece) and the annual operating costs would be in the thousands.
Of course, the vehicle could always be confiscated through the drug war. You know, that never ending war on people who wish to put things into their own bodies by people who know better than they do. However, don’t be fooled. In a monetary sense only, a confiscated vehicle certainly is not free. Imagine the cost of the operation that obtained the vehicle. How many man-hours? Oops, I digress.
2. Instead of adding to the force, we could divert police resources to the highway. This, of course is the lesser of 2 evils since this would be cheaper. However, in the fantasy world of public opinion, it means less officers out there to deter “violent criminals.” In reality, this actually means less officers to collect the bodies and assess the damages of crimes after the fact, so maybe it would be a better use for the officers. Also, it would remove them from the previously mentioned “drug war” (a bulk of their workload, but probably less than traffic management), so they can collect fines from traffic violators instead: six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Two considerations that nobody ever talks about:
1. How effective would more police be in resolving this traffic crisis? I will keep this short. Nobody ever does a results-based examination to tell if more police would really “help” in this situation. Of course, in my hypothetical example there really wasn’t a problem. It was simply a one-time tragic event that was not indicative of a trend. The call for more police was simply a knee-jerk reaction, and the government is all too ready to respond with more taxes, more control, and questionable efficacy. This is a micro example of the larger problem of the State. Eventually, maybe years later, those extra officers will be diverted elsewhere (probably to the drug war…hee hee).
2. What is the impact on your personal liberty? Very few ever consider the impact of having more armed employees of the State. Not only do they suck away private capital and resources (the real source of innovation), but now the State increases its ability to reach out and touch you with it’s increasing monopoly on violence. Because of calls to fix a non-problem, the State gradually usurps more power from you.
So what do you think about having more police patrols on the highway?