Columnist Michael Shannon raises a lot of good points in today’s News & Messenger about Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Deane’s approach to implementing the direction of the Board of County Supervisors. The ultimate question raised by all of this is whether regular citizens should be able to expect fair treatment from the police department, which at it’s highest levels seems determined to treat illegal aliens differently than everyone else. It’s worth recalling here that until the Rule of Law Resolution was enacted, Chief Deane’s secret policy was to prohibit questioning of suspected illegal aliens regarding their immigration status unless a felony complaint was involved. Has Deane ever restricted officers from investigating any other class of crime which normal citizens might have committed, or held back on any other kind of enforcement actions? No, he hasn’t.
There was an unfortunate juxtaposition last week on the front page of The News & Messenger for Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Deane. The very day he announced a 22 percent drop in violent crime, three hijackers hit a Loomis armored car.
No doubt Deane was desperately hoping these particular banditos were the local variety and not those pesky imported lawbreakers that have been ginning up conservatives. Fortunately for him, these hombres malos were citizens, with valid ID, so the chief will have no qualms about coming down hard.
Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart was also gratified by the violent crime drop and attributed the decline to the county crackdown on illegal aliens. But Deane, the county’s Ambassador to Mexico, was concerned that crime is going unreported by illegal victims and that the department may be losing the trust and confidence of people who’s first contact with the U. S. came after violating our border.
Deane’s troubled because he’s been more of a “bienvenido” guy rather than a strict “hasta la vista, bay-bee” enforcer. Essentially, Deane is convinced your increased chance of a collision with an illegal alien driver who’s driving drunk or motoring sin license or insurance is a small price to pay for cross-border harmony.
There is also an interesting dynamic in the media treatment of these two public figures. Stewart has a remarkable job in that no matter what the issue — foreclosures, difficulty in hiring a nanny, back injuries for people forced to mow their own lawn — he gets all the blame. Yet when something muy bueno like a drop in violent crime comes along, Stewart gets none of the credit.
Ambassador Deane on the other hand, leads a blameless existence. He gets no heat for his foot-dragging on illegal alien enforcement, no blowback when illegals commit serious crime and presumably he’ll be famous nationwide when Mexicans Without Borders makes him Peace Officer of the Year.
Que lástima! I often wonder if any other chief could get away with Deane’s obstinate opposition to his employer’s clearly stated policy and still retain his job.
Think back to when the BOCS passed the crackdown. After opposing the policy, Deane announced he would begin training officers in enforcement.
In most police departments (I’m not up to speed on policy in Mexico, maybe Charlie knows) when there is a new policy or technology, officers are given in-service training.
Once trained, officers are authorized to enforce the policy, or use of the technology starts as soon as graduates of the first class finish.
But not in PWC for policy of which his Excellency does not approve. Deane waited until the ENTIRE DEPARTMENT went through the training before he authorized enforcement.
Deane’s decision to delay enforcement was unprecedented. Do you think when his department transitioned from revolvers to semi-automatics he waited until every officer had semi training before he issued the weapons? No. Once an officer was trained he could use the weapon.
Why the delay? I think our one-man State Department was hoping Sharon Pandak would beat Stewart in the 2007 election and the policy might go away with a new board chairman.
But to the dismay of labor exploiters throughout the county, Stewart won and so did his policy.
Which brings us back to the crime drop.
Illegal enablers are trumpeting the fact that only about 3.5 percent of the arrestees for violent crimes were illegal. As if that fact vindicates their support of low-level lawbreaking by trespassers. But it proves nothing of the kind.
At the beginning of the illegal alien crackdown, the PWC school district benefited from an unexpected drop in enrollment of 600. Coincidence? I think not. Illegals voted with their feet (Democrats are working on establishing the other kind of vote) when they came here, and they voted with their feet when they left for the more “tolerant” Arlington or Montgomery counties.
And if you don’t believe me, believe the PWCPD Gang Unit. Its experience since the beginning of the crackdown is fewer illegal alien gang members, which means fewer crimes.
Statistics don’t express crimes that would have occurred if the criminal had not moved. So in this instance, absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.
You have no idea the logistical difficulties involved in remote-control crime. If you have ever participated in a contest drawing, you may recall the disclaimer on the ticket that read: MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN.
Well, the same goes for crime: MUST BE PRESENT TO STEAL.
I can’t confirm that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it does make the neighborhood grow safer. So, sombreros off to Chairman Stewart for supporting the crackdown in spite of opposition and don’t forget to “press one for English.”
Michael R. Shannon is owner of MANDATE: Message, Media & Public Relations, located in Woodbridge.
Shannon probably could have gone on for twice as long on this topic, but with limited space in a newspaper editorial, I suppose he had to leave a few things out. I imagine with the opportunity, he would have continued with these observations:
Last year’s budget for the Police Department included a request for cameras to be installed in all the county’s patrol cars. Although the measure was tied directly to the Rule of Law Resolution, a 2005 report from the International Chiefs of Police Association indicated that the number one benefit of these cameras was an increase in officer safety. When that budget item was cut, there was an indication by Deane that because of the widespread benefits these cameras offer, his department would seek grants to start getting these cameras installed. Even local elected officials such as Congressman Frank Wolf offered to help secure these.
Since then, we’ve heard absolutely nothing about getting cameras installed. If these cameras were so important then, and offered such compelling benefits as improving officer safety, why in the world wouldn’t Deane be making some effort to obtain them now, especially with federal funds? Could it be simply because he threw that budget item in in order to make the enforcement of the Rule of Law Resolution as unpalatable as possible, and his interest in officer safety and effective law enforcement practices pales in comparison to the political battling he wanted to engage in? It sure seems that way.
Another issue steadfastly ignored by Deane and his upper echelons is the day laborer issue. Help Save Manassas has worked very hard to establish meaniful dialog between the police department and local property owners who have their property overrun by crowds of day laborers that negatively impact their businesses in meaningful ways. The county police department has no ability for property owners to file an affidavit with the Department to authorize enforcement of loitering laws, unlike even liberal nearby jurisdictions as Montgomery County, Maryland. This means that until an enourmous amount of legwork is done by volunteers to establish pre-existing authorization for police to do they job they’re supposed to do, property owners must call in each and every time loitering day laborers take over their property.
Without an actual negotiated agreement between a property owner and the Prince William County Police Department, loitering laws are effectively unenforced. In almost every case I’ve seen, the lack of response by police without these agreements leads to property owners simply giving up on asking for help. If you call the police because there’s a suspicious group of people hanging out on the corner of your street who aren’t ostensibly day laborers, police response is immediate and strong. Make the same call complaining that thirty day laborers have taken over your property and scaring away customers, and the police are too busy, enforcing the law is too difficult and time-consuming, and the day laborers will just be back right after the police leave.
We’ve even seen reports where day laborers assaulted people, and instead of investigating an actual crime, the police chose to harass the victims. Yeah, this is a department that wants to enforce the law fairly and equally, but some people are simply more equal than others, aren’t they.
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