Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Task forces really are the long arm of the law

Post by Brian O'Neill on March 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm with 7 Comments »
March 5, 2013 6:50 am

When cops work together, good things can happen.

Last week a mixed bag of local, state and federal cops put the finishing touches on a cooperative effort known as Shiny Penny. After six months of work the officers and agents working for Pierce County’s Auto Crimes Enforcement task force (say that three times fast), netted a treasure trove of stolen vehicles, firearms and other property (Trib 3/2).

Twenty-one people went for that shiny penny, and ended up dangling on ACE’s hook. That is the type of successful collaboration that the other Washington would do well to emulate.

Agencies working together in a task force/
Agencies working together in a task force/

Unfortunately, even such positive results never seem to please certain folks. These people (do I even need to mention Eyman’s name?) give no thought to either the immediate impact on public safety or the long-term effects of large-scale operations. For them there is no corner of government that can’t be trimmed and no public budget that isn’t swollen.

Sure, government waste exists. But so does crime, and that is why task forces like ACE are worth the money.

Without such aggressive programs, we simply revert to the old model: A car is stolen and the owner calls 9-1-1 to report it; a busy patrol officer arrives and takes the report which is handed off to a detective already submerged in cases; the incident is recorded on a spreadsheet and, without an obvious trail to follow, the report collects dust.

In other words, when public dollars are scarce police work becomes reactionary, enforcement devolves into crime management, and the only measure of success is the status quo.

New software technology has helped break that mold. Police agencies now can plug crime data into new trend-mapping software where it is distilled into a coherent guide for future criminal activity. Pretty good stuff if you have enforcement measures ready to handle the problem.

Which brings us back to task forces. Coordinated effort is necessary when cops come up against mobile crime trends such as car theft, narcotics, gangs, burglary, etc. Like the thieves and drug dealers they often pursue, task forces are also mobile by nature. Their value only increases when you consider the following axioms:

1) Criminals don’t recognize city and county lines, or any other type of jurisdictional boundaries;

2) In many categories of crime, a handful of individuals are responsible for a large percentage of criminal activity.

When chiefs initiate a task force, usually with a stroke of their pens, every participating agency has effectively added intel experts, undercover specialists and tactical operators to their roster, along with every state and federal arrest power available in the group. Send out this type of team on a single crime trend, and you should expect to catch some pretty big fish.

That’s why task forces like ACE should be acknowledged, funded and, if money allows, expanded. Think about that the next time a politician or lobbyist wants to cut funding to city hall. That penny you save might be shiny, but it won’t hold any value for the next victim of crime.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. simonsjs says:

    An attack on Eyman is an attack on the people. Don’t forget Brian, Eyman initiatives were approved by the voting public. The public is tired of being fleeced, get it?

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    I take your point, simon. However, Eyman is able to sway a majority of voters because they lack knowledge of exactly how their votes can impact programs such as the one mentioned in the column. In this case, ignorance is not bliss.

  3. simonsjs says:

    Brian you are unbelievable! Now you are saying the voters are lacking knowledge, WOW! You and the other shills who hate what the voters do are truly the ones lacking knowledge. You lose more credibility with every article you write. See you are on the side of the takers, the public is on the side of those being taken from. We DO NOT lack knowledge and that insult is over the top but also not unexpected from those who receive the benefits of the thefts, aka taxes.

  4. Of course the voters lack knowledge. Have you noticed the state of our
    State, County and Country?
    The task forces ride around in cars so much I imagine they get sick
    to death of cars.

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    simonsjs- Taxes, which you refer to as theft, pays for most of our transportation infrastructure, 911 services such as emergency medical and law enforcement and many other basic necessities of life. As I mentioned in the column, there is always room for reform.

    Because I don’t know much about transportation, per se, I read the Trib articles on bus service cancellation. In a like manner, I offer my own insight into police work, including my experience working in task forces similar to Pierce County’s ACE program. Why you consider the sharing of knowledge to be an insult is beyond me.

    There is no benefit to creating adversarial relationships, such as users and takers, i.e. te public and the taxpayers. Last I checked, public employees pay taxes just like everyone else.

  6. simonsjs says:

    Brian, if you agree there is no benefit to creating adversarial relationships, then why do you say the public lacks knowledge and why do you attack Eyman? Eyman’s initiatives pass because the public is tired of being fleeced. Do you understand that the public is sick and tired of having their money taken? Do you have relationships with people other then government workers? Do the people you have these relationships with not have a spouse or family member working for the government?

    You offer insight into the mind of a public worker and you see how the public responds. The public has had enough of the brain washing that you and others who work for the media keep pursuing. Since you’re on the inside, I understand why you don’t see the other side.

    As for reform, for sure that is needed but somehow it NEVER HAPPENS.

  7. Reasoning with simonsjs is what reasoning would be if one were trying to engage a bag of rocks.

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