Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cutting Public Safety

As this article from the Los Angeles Times notes, reducing public safety resources may play a role in reducing the capability to save lives, the essential role of government—protecting and saving lives—and, unfortunately, it mirrors the continuing cuts in the Parkway Rangers who do so much to make the Parkway safe.

An excerpt.

“Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies are getting to the scenes of 911 emergencies significantly later than they were before budget cuts last March, according to a recent analysis of Sheriff's Department records.

“Last month, response times were a full minute longer compared with their 2009 average.

“Department officials say they can't definitively link the lag to budget cuts, but whatever the cause, they say delays in emergency situations can have a major effect on law enforcement outcomes.

"Seconds count," said Capt. Mike Parker. "When people call for help, they want us to be there right away. There have been lots of calls where I was really glad I was there when I was, and not five seconds later."

“Since the department moved to cut its budget by $128 million six months ago, response times have consistently been longer than they were last year. The delays affect a massive jurisdiction that includes three-fourths of Los Angeles County and approximately 4 million residents.

“In a recent report to the county Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Lee Baca listed the lag as a possible effect of cuts to overtime — but in an interview, he said other factors, such as a surge in 911 calls, might be at play.

"It's not something to shrug off," Baca said. "We have to watch it and if our response to emergencies continues extending, we could come to a tipping point. I think we're still at the front end … but we're inching up to it."

“Baca said deputies are often the first on the scene in shootings, stabbings and other situations in which timeliness can save lives.”