Does the Town of Berlin, Connecticut, need to scale down and demilitarize its own Police Department?

Police StateBerlin’s Deputy Police Chief, John Klett, recently stated that the Berlin Connecticut Police Department has forty-two police officers and thirteen support-staff employees. Consequently there appear to be fifty-five employees working in the Berlin Police Department.

On the website of the nearby Town of Farmington, forty-one employees are listed as comprising its Police Department staff. One may wonder why, even though Farmington has a population 27.5% larger than that of Berlin, the number of employees in Berlin’s police department is 34% larger than that of Farmington’s Police Department.

The reason is not because the Town of Berlin has a higher crime rate than that of Farmington, Connecticut. In 2012, the most recent year of municipal statistics available on the City-Data.com website, the published crime rate of Berlin was significantly much lower than that of Farmington. In 2012 Berlin had a “low” crime rate, with no murders or rapes. In fact, Berlin’s crime rate in 2012 was one-third of the average crime rate in the US. By comparison, Farmington’s crime rate was 46% higher than that of Berlin. So why do Berlin taxpayers need to finance 34% more police employees than those in Farmington, when its population is 27.5% larger and its crime rate is 46% higher? Are the Farmington Police officers just simply smarter and better at their jobs?

In spite of the Berlin Police Department’s low crime rate, it still finds it necessary to equip themselves with riot gear, body armor, bullet proof vests, chemical equipment, swat rifles, etc, creating a lack of storage space at its present location. Perhaps if the Berlin Police Department did not have all of this military equipment, it would not require a larger facility for storage. Do you recall the Berlin Police Department ever having need for riot helmets, body armor, swat rifles, and chemical equipment in Berlin? Was there ever a riot in Berlin? Was there ever a gang shootout in Berlin? What’s next? MRAPs, humvees, machine guns, grenade launchers, camouflage, helicopters, and planes?

But storage and size of staff are not the only reasons cited for a new Police station. The Berlin Police Department also wants a new station because it believes that it needs bullet-proof windows and bullet-proof walls in its building, fearing that someone will attempt to shoot the Police Chief in his office, employees through the walls in its central storage area, which already has bullet-proof glass protecting its occupants from Berlin citizens, and other areas of the building. That certainly says a lot about how the Police view the Berlin taxpayers who pay their salaries, doesn’t it?

If some crazy nut case really wanted to shoot Berlin’s Police Chief or other police employees, even if there were bullet-proof windows and walls in the station, couldn’t they just wait and shoot them walking to their cars, or at their homes, or on the street? Does the Town of Berlin require a police station in its quiet suburb community of peaceful, friendly, respectable, and respectful citizens, or a military garrison as found in Afghanistan? Do the Berlin police regard themselves as peace officers or soldiers? Do the Berlin police regard the Town of Berlin as a battleground or as a community of taxpaying citizens whom they have been entrusted to protect and serve? Do Berlin Police officers regard the citizens of Berlin as the enemy instead of as those whom they are bound to serve and protect and who are the ultimate source of funds for their salaries?

If there is a low crime rate and there have been no recent murders, why has the Berlin Police Department been purchasing swat rifles, riot helmets, bullet-proof vests, body armor, and chemical equipment? Do the citizens of Berlin really need a Fort Bragg in their bedroom community? Can the citizens of Berlin afford a “Taj Mahal”? Or does Berlin’s Police Department simply just need to exercise some common sense, some respect for its citizens, and some concern shown to the taxpayers of Berlin for the affordability of its department?

The Town of Berlin deserves a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of all municipal services. Rather than hire additional police officers every year in a community with a low crime rate, perhaps it would be wiser to hire an internal auditor who would report directly to the Town Council to undertake some much needed cost-benefit analyses as well as efficiency and operational audits of the various municipal departments in Berlin. Perhaps a “crime” to which Berlin citizens should give some consideration and which is not being addressed by the Town of Berlin is that resulting from there being “a fox in the hen house”.

It’s unfortunate for citizens that the gouging of taxpayers is not a crime. If it were, then maybe working-class citizens could afford to live in Berlin and other communities in Connecticut.

Are Berlin police officers transforming from peace keepers to soldiers?  Should Berlin taxpayers consider scaling down and demilitarizing their Police Department?  Perhaps Berlin taxpayers need to consider the pictures below of what has been transpiring in many cities across the country:

swat-7 swat-4 swat-6 swat-1 APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri swat-3 police 1

Comments are welcome from identifiable sources.

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About Connecticut Politics

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, who operates a public accounting firm, Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC. Bill began his career in public accounting over thirty years ago. He provides a variety of accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting services to individuals and business across a wide spectrum of industries. Bill writes an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks blog under the penname, "The Barefoot Accountant". William Brighenti created the blog, Connecticut Politics, because of the need for a voice to cry out loud--Vox Clamantis--explaining the reasons for the terrible state of the economy in the United States as well as urging change and reform before the United States becomes a third world country.
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