Cops want more money. Citizens want more foot patrol.
We can have both. I call it “Policing Green.” Give cops the gas money for their shift if they agree to patrol without a car for that shift.
The environmental link is mostly just a clever title to sell the idea, but it really would be green and save gas. At its core, though, it’s about policing.
In an informal survey of my police officers students, every one of them would walk foot for their gas money. At least when it's not raining.
Police cars in the city probably go through about 6-8 gallons per shift. That’s $28-$32 right now. And even with giving this to police officers, departments would save money on cars upkeep in general. And as long as it’s the officers’ choice, everybody wins!
Rather than asking what foot patrol does to improve matters (I believe it does, but it's hard to prove), letting cops walk foot would shift the burden to asking what cars do to improve policing (and it's been proven cars don't improve patrol). Simply placing the burden on defending car patrol would be a huge and productive shift in police culture and patrol.
Even better, you would let patrol officers determine the best way to police without cars. From the top down, it would never work. From the ground up, this could be effective.
Here’s the system: at the start of the shift, officers either take the car keys or don’t. Anything else is up to them. They can grab their keys any time they want. But if they do, they don’t get the gas money for the day. They’re welcome to get a ride to their post. But they’re not allowed to team up with another officer in a car and split the gas money. That’s the only rule.
Brilliant or crazy?