There might not be any worse time in our nation’s history to be a cop. Talk to any police officer who’s worked through this past year and they’ll share with you the litany of challenges they face day in and day out. A global pandemic, civil unrest, calls for deep budget cuts, and even local newspaper artists here in Salt Lake depicting them as members of the Ku Klux Klan all contribute to the struggle of an already tough job. However, one challenge clearly rises above them all.
Since April of 2020, many departments, including Salt Lake City, have seen a decline in proactive policing. Historically, until the mid-1980s, most criminology experts assumed that policing was a matter of responding to crime, and police officers had no impact on the number of crimes committed in a given city. Simply put, the experts thought that “criminals would be criminals” and cops should just show up to “clean up the mess.” Because of this philosophy, patrol officers mostly waited around for 911 calls to come in, then responded in a reactive fashion. In the late 80s and early 90s, innovative law enforcement leaders in New York City such as Bill Bratton, Chuck Wexler, and John Timoney, decided to challenge the notion that police officers have no impact on crime.
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