There has been plenty of discussion recently in the Mountain Xpress about the Asheville Police Department's recent changes, allegations of corruption and mismanagement. The truth is that local police forces recruit and maintain exactly whom the system will tolerate. By system, I mean the two-class system that runs the Western world.
Sit through a couple of hours in any general sessions criminal court, and watch the poorly educated and poorly funded get litigiously ground up — fodder for the system. On the rare occasion that a police officer is confronted as a witness, any boilerplate testimony given by a cop will generally suffice to get a conviction. This leads most defendants (out of fear and ignorance) to opt for plea bargains behind the scenes. They don't waste the court’s time, and the state/county/city gets its pound of flesh.
The whole law-enforcement machine keeps running, oiled with our money. And why would the system want public defenders to actually fight for their trashy clients? That dynamic would eventually teach and require cops to handle themselves in the street and in the courtroom to the letter of the law and the expectations of society — that kind of cop is going to require (and deserve) a five- or six-figure salary. Where are we going to get that money?
Quite obviously, the system doesn't want to attract, hire or retain personnel [who are] honest, hardworking and educated enough to stand up to the scrutiny of high-priced defense lawyers. This way the well heeled can play as they wish and generally escape conviction while the common folk have to follow the rules or actually pay the piper. You can check the requirements and compensation for local law-enforcement officers.
So quit complaining and don't expect too much out of law enforcement. The patrol cars and equipment are more expensive than the folks operating them. We get exactly what we pay for.
— Norman Plombe