Police response rates to smaller crimes are dropping around the country as cash-strapped local governments cut back the number of cops on the street (while leaving way too many unpr
oductive bureaucrats on the job)… a trend that is already catching many Americans by surprise.
Traditionally, when something bad happens – a burglary, a break-in, violence – you call the police. A quick dial to 9-1-1 and you know help is on the way.
Granted, certain types of law-enforcement are on the rise, such as automated speed traps, parking enforcement, fines for petty infractions, and drug-related confiscations.
Some police departments have even taken to shutting down children’s lemonade stands unless the kiddies buy a permit.
But these problems go deeper.
And we have a few ideas on how you can keep your home and family safe if your own emergency response services go on leave without warning, but first, let’s take a closer look at why this is happening.
The Growing City Budget Crisis:
Pensioners Come Ahead of Taxpayers
and Vital Services
Rising local taxes and declining local services have a lot of people scratching their heads wondering why cities seem to be taking in more and more money while cutting services right and left… even essential services like police departments.
The issue really comes down to one thing… pension plans. We know… pension plans are a pretty boring topic, but in this case these plans are bringing local governments to their knees, and it’s only a matter of time before you feel the effects at home.
During the years of gangbuster growth, city governments were fat with cash. Being governments, they didn’t sock it away for unexpected expenses or even cut tax rates to leave more of that money in your hands. No, no. They found new ways to spend it.
A favorite way to spend it was on pension plans for public employees. Now times are lean, and city governments all over the country find themselves on the hook for public pension plans that they can’t afford anymore, but that they’re contractually obligated to pay. In California and beyond, for example, the pension load is so great that taxpayers are burdened with paying for the equivalent of two or more cops (retired) for every one on active service!
City governments can’t easily opt to not pay for pensions, which means that the money they take in is going to pay for services already rendered, leaving not nearly enough left over to pay for current services needed. Here are a few statistics to give you an idea of why you need to step up and make your own security preparations:
In an average year, the city of New Haven, Connecticut sees revenue growth of approximately $4 million. The demands of their pension programs add $12 million to the budget each year.
Anaheim, California spends more than a fifth of its budget on pension costs, and those costs will climb by 50% over the next four years.
In San Francisco, pension costs amounted to $63 million in 2000. By 2015, pension costs will have increased to $650 million.
In New York, the state will need to increase property taxes by 3.5% a year for the next five years to manage school-related pension costs.
In Detroit, taxpayers employ 13,000 active public workers, but also must pay pension costs for 22,000 retired workers.
As you can see, cities from coast-to-coast and cities big and small are facing a budget crisis like we’ve never seen before. Services are already starting to crumble.
Things are bleak for city law enforcement all over. Now is a good time to figure out what all this may mean to you.
Work on Your Personal Security Plan…
When it comes to security, the most effective action is proactive rather than reactive. Preventive measures are at the core of a successful personal security plan. After all, you’d rather prevent a crime than respond to one if at all possible.
Secure Your Home: You can do several simple things to make your home more secure. First, make sure there are good-quality locks on each door. Deadbolts are the best because they’re the hardest for a criminal to pick. Next, make sure your home has good lighting. You should have lights by the front door and back door. If your home has other entry doors, make sure those are lit, too. Consider using a timer to turn some of your interior lights off and on during the day and evening. That way, even if you aren’t home, it will still look like you’re home. Then, check all your windows. Make sure the latches are in good working order and lock securely.
And finally, start practicing good habits. Lock the doors when you leave the house. Change your locks if you ever lose a key. Keep alarms in good working order. And, never advertise when you aren’t at home, especially on social networks like Facebook and Twitter – they are the new “haven” for criminals looking for empty houses.
Secure Your Community: Fostering a safe community will make your home safer, too. Work with neighbors to set up a neighborhood watch. Keep an eye out for strange people lurking around. Set up a phone tree with your neighbors, so that in case of an emergency, you can organize a community response should emergency services not be available.
Be Smart: One of the biggest steps you can take for your own personal safety is to begin developing a better sense of awareness. When you’re aware of your surroundings, you can identify potential threats and avoid them before they become actual threats. Periodically, when you’re at home or when you’re out walking or shopping, pause for a moment and do a mental exercise to increase your awareness. You can imagine a scenario that presents a danger and think through how you’d react in your current surroundings. You can mentally list off sources of potential danger in your current surroundings. Or you can try to identify the people in your vicinity from memory rather than looking up to see who’s around. Doing these kinds of exercises will train your mind to stay more alert, and that can be a lifesaver.
Also, learn to trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling about walking down a certain street, find a different street to walk down. If you don’t like a situation you’re in, remove yourself from it. If a person approaching makes your hair stand on end, then retreat to somewhere you feel safe.
Take a First Aid Class: In the event that something does happen and emergency help is slow to respond or is completely unresponsive, knowing basic first aid can put you in the position to be a help to whoever needs it.
Learn How to Handle a Firearm: Whether you purchase a handgun or not is a personal decision. Whatever choice you make, though, we highly recommend you at least learn how to handle a gun safely. Take a class so you know what each button, lever, and slide on a pistol does. Go shooting at a range so you know what to expect when you pull a trigger. Hopefully, you are never in a situation that calls for you to use a gun to protect yourself or someone else, but if you are, you’ll be thankful you know what you’re doing. Oh, and gun safety takes practice, so don’t go to the range once and decide you’re a pro. Go on a regular basis, so you’re always confident and ready should the need ever arise.
We believe we’re in for some increasingly tough times that spark unprecedented levels of crime. With a little planning, though, you can be ready for almost anything and keep you and your family safe.