Growing up in Florida, I can attest to the sheer number of law enforcement officers (as well as full-time firemen), many of whom make unbelievable salaries and benefits. Of course these benefits are not supported by the market, they are the product of unionization. This applies to both liberal/decaying areas such as new england, as well as conservative/wealthy areas such as the coasts of Florida. Liberal areas are pro-big-government and pro-unions, which results in large pools of government employees, including in law enforcement. Wealthy/conservative areas generally have a large population of older citizens, who obsess about how many police officers are patrolling the streets. The results, based upon my observances, is a bunch of over-paid government employees who have nothing better to do than to obsess over catching you speeding. And if you are a decent-looking woman, there has to be enough back-up available to at least have three cruisers on the scene.
West Virginia has its problems, but this generally is not one of them. State troopers do get decent pay. However, most county or municipal cops get paid very, very little. I think all of our firefighters are volunteers. We should keep it this way. We should let the market dictate pay. There obviously is no shortage of qualified persons wanting to be in law enforcement. Why raise our taxes for no reason? Or maybe we should pay the better cops more, and fire the bad ones.
There was an article in the San Francisco Examiner to the effect that over 1,000 cops in one New York county are being paid over $150,000.00 per year:
According to this report from Newsday, a state oversight board is seizing control of Nassau County’s finances “in large part because County Executive Edward Mangano was unable to get millions of dollars in labor givebacks to balance his $2.6-billion budget.”
Of the county’s 2,400 police officers, 1,103 were paid in excess of $150,000 a year. Clearly, that’s not sustainable. And just last week Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., highlighted the case of Parsippany, N.J. where the town had to take out a bond to pay for the retirements of four police officers. Union rules allow police to be paid for any unused sick leave on retirement, and the four cops had accumulated $900,000 worth.
For years, public safety employee unions have extracted major salary and benefit concessions through implicit threat — striking police leave communities vulnerable. But now we’ve reached a point where communities around the country are quite literally out of money. Either the unions start making concessions, or start losing jobs.
Beware, it can easily happen here in West Virginia. It would be nice to have everything that everybody wants, but sometimes you just can’t afford to have everything that you think you need. We have been getting along just fine. Of course we have our problems, but at least we don’t have the problems that these governments in New York and California do.