You may have heard the story that I told about my sister, who lives in a very tiny town. When I told you that I grew up in Hooterville you probably can’t relate because of my lofty thoughts, that originate from my fertile mind.
However, I grew up in a town that was just under 2000 Columbus Grove. We were one of the larger towns in the county, so I always consider myself a city slicker.
No small-town stuff for me. I was thinking way out of the box. I had Beatle boots long before they were popular.
I had my own car at 16 even though I flunked my first driver's test. I did tell you I ran a stop sign other than that the driving test was perfect.
So, I digress a little bit. My sister, who may be listening probably has grown wary of the story.
However, it goes like this in her sleepy little town, a guy walked in Hell Bent for leather, wanting to see the manager of the company.
She being the dog at the door, excuse me not to refer to my sister as a dog. She’s a very nice person and a very beautiful person. In any case she was the gatekeeper.
You want to see who, and do you have an appointment? He was not dissuaded, he pushed his way past the velvet rope that they had set up, which impeded anyone from going into his office.
A very good security system if you never need it.
The man in question pushed his way past my sister and the velvet rope, and pounded on the desk of the manager, Eventually cooler heads prevailed and they brought the temperature down.
But my sister had a decision to make. Does she call the police? Dord she call 911, it was what we call a conundrum. You see the police officer was on vacation in Florida, and there was no back up.
Just in case this is lost on you he was the only police officer on the force, even Andy had Barney. Now, I’m not sure if he just works 9 to 5 or 11 to 7 but that is the state of our small towns in America.
Why would I bring up such an isolated incident? Well this segues into almost the same thing in a place called Goodhugh Minnesota.
City council in Goodhue tried to fill vacancies. They increased the pay and the benefits, still no one applied. When nothing changed, they decided "let’s shutter the police department."
You may not have noticed because most people misbehave in small towns, but America is in the midst of a police officer shortage that many are blaming on the morale going back to 2020.
From small towns, Texas to Ohio towns, we are unable to fill jobs, and they are eliminating police departments.
Latest count 521 US towns with populations between 1000 and 200,000 have disbanded policing. In the past two years at least 12 small towns have dissolved their departments.
The bottom line is that small towns can’t afford big paychecks and benefits. We have essentially told law enforcement that they are not in a good career choice
Resignations are up 47% compared to 2019 . Couple that with retirements of 19%.
Fewer people are applying to be police officers, and more officers are retiring or resigning at a rate that we’ve never seen. There is a shortage of police officers across the country.
Are you beginning to ask yourself if everything is in short supply?
Last year it was washers and dryers. The year before that it was automobiles. Currently it’s truck drivers.
Have you thought to yourself? What will it take for America to get back to work.?
Everyone is struggling for people. They can’t all be getting checks, so the question is how are they living.?
What will it take to get people to do work that we once thought was privileged.
A few years ago, try getting into the post office. Try getting into an elite police department. You had to know someone.
Currently, one of our biggest sectors of advertising is recruiting. Just a few short years ago people struggled to just get an application.
Think of the people who were displaced when Youngstown sheet and tube gave the shoe to 5000 in one day.
Many changed their careers, Steel workers were retrained only to find that they really weren’t making steel worker wages any longer. Many took multiple jobs.
Many have said it did not work out like they thought. Now It appears the only answer to America’s labor problems is more consolidation.
In a small town in Washburn Illinois, they dissolved their department two years ago. They let the county take over policing a small town just 1100 people.
The Mayor Steve Forney said you really can’t tell much difference. That alone should get our attention.
In Lott, Texas, a town of 700, they disbanded their department last year. They feel that residents are OK with the county running the police force.
So back to my opening statement in Goodhue Minnesota they tried to keep their department they raised the per hour wage to $22 and gave top notch benefits and nobody applied. The mayor says there is zero incentive to come out to a small town.
I’m drawn to one conclusion; we have likely been living in denial for years.
I think it was Canfield that got the message a few years ago. Essentially, they said, Canfield Township cannot do with the county sheriff can-do.
You know, it’s been a long time since I talked about consolidation, but maybe it’s time we get ahead of the coming tsunami.
The question becomes, would we be better off with a centrally dispatched police department that covers the entire county?
Possibly this could be done and still retain the autonomy of places such as a Struthers, Poland village, Canfield city, Boardman, Austintown and the City of Youngstown plus parts of liberty.
In the aggregate group we are already spending enough money to keep the peace. Is it time to do policing better cheaper?
We continually duplicate Police Chief’s. And I think it’s because that’s the way we have always done things .however ,with the writing on the wall. I think it’s time we had this conversation again.
There are not people applying for jobs. Some of it will be taken over by automation. Policing is likely not one of those things.
If you think about the Postal Service, it is probably a rare happening that they are required to deliver to every address in the United States.
Just thinking out of the box how much could be saved if you were required to go to a central place and pick up our own mail?
That is what it might come to if we don’t start answering the call to employment. Whoever thought that we would be the driver of automation.
It’s not artificial intelligence, it’s not planned obsolescence, it’s lazy people driving employers to automation.
Have we gotten to the point that we are so lazy that we deserve to become artifacts? Still the unanswered question is this why are not people going to work?
How are they continuing to avoid work and still enjoy the fruits of America?