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Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Milton City Manager advocates "police state" tactics

Milton GA City Council

Editorial Courtesy Of CNN I report

Posted By MrSamD

IReport

When I was in grade school I was taught that the (former) Soviet Union was evil and must be feared. I learned how Soviet citizens could be accosted by the secret police and arrested if there was a slight imperfection in their "papers". Citizens lived in constant fear of the police. There was one set of rules for the elite and another for everyone else. I was also taught that things were different in America. I was taught our police were friends, they were there to "protect and serve". The Soviet Union collapsed under the totalitarian rule of its police state and it seems that we Americans and citizens of Milton have forgotten the lesson learned from the Soviets.

We, the citizens of Milton, chose to incorporate to have more control over how we were taxed and governed. We incorporated because we wanted better services, local control, and lower taxes; but we have a problem. Our city council members have not (yet) found a City Manager whose management skills and personal values align with a "culture of service". In fact, the top job in Milton, the job of City Manager has been a revolving door since incorporation. The current City Manager, Chris Lagerbloom, is a career police officer most recently serving as a police captain in Alpharetta, GA. In February, when Chris was announced as the new City Manager his credentials were listed as a long history of police work, police associations, and a degree in criminal justice. Reading his credentials, I felt he was being appointed to the job of Police Chief not CEO of our city.

The concern for Milton citizens is not just that the city manager is a career policeman but that his values align more with military command than with customer service. Right in our own backyard we have witnessed the grave consequences of hiring a manager with values that conflict with the culture of the organization he is hired to lead. Home Depot grew into a Fortune 500 powerhouse under the leadership of two men who believed that the customer was king. When they exited from the management of the company, the board mistakenly hired Bob Nardelli from GE. Nardelli brought with him a management team focused on operational efficiency. Within a few years under the leadership of Nardelli, Home Depot's market value collapsed and the die hard loyal customer base had defected. The problem is the same one we face here in the city of Milton; a culture disconnect between the citizens who voted for incorporation and the misaligned values of a regimented police officer.

Since February, 2009 when Chris Lagerbloom was appointed City Manager, the city has become more and more a police state. We see police cars speeding around our community, chirping their tires on the way to the coffee shop. We see our neighbor's honor student crying in her car while a police officer writes a ticket at the bottom of a long steep hill. We see our wife almost run off the road by a police officer chasing down another mom who didn't make a three second stop at the stop sign during rush hour. We find police cars parked in private driveways hidden from public view while waiting for a revenue moment. We find police officers following people out of restaurant parking lots looking for a tire to broach the center line so they can check for DUI.

When police are hiding out looking for speeders, they are not deterring, preventing or interdicting violent crime and crime against property because they are not visible. If there is a problem with speeding then the police should patrol and be visible. Malls don't hire a security guard to hide inside the store at night waiting for a burglar they can shoot; they post them visibly as a deterrent. Police hiding in the bushes and racing down the road to ticket someone breeds contempt for the police department; it does not deter speeding. If speed management is the goal, rather than revenue enhancement, patrolling is the answer. Patrolling will offer people a sense of safety without intimidation and harassment.

As the economy gets worse with more people loosing their jobs, homes, and retirement the pressure will increase to generate even more revenue from policing activities. Its been justified in small circles saying that speeders come from Forsyth and Cherokee county, so its OK to take their money. This is a hollow excuse; even if it were true it is down right wrong and un-American. Just imagine what it would be like to live in Milton if everyone who was ticketed in a speed trap were to protest by slowly parading through the speed zone honking their horns like a locomotive train every day and night until the neighborhood raised up their arms against the police presence. This trend toward a police state must be reversed before we create our own Orwellian society.

The city's revenue budget reflects this disturbing trend toward a police state and it seems that some of our city council members may have been sucked into this warped thinking. Outside of property, sales and related taxes (which are down significantly in the bad economy), the largest revenue line items come from fines and court fees; dwarfing revenues from alcoholic beverage licenses, zoning permits, and building permits. If the City Manager's best idea for balancing the City's budget is revenue from police and court actions, we need a different City Manager!

Milton can be a shining city on the hill but it won't get there as a police state! We are a rural community, many living on small farms. Our homes are far apart and we usually need to get into our car just to visit our next door neighbor. Our roads are country roads that connect us with our friends, jobs, and businesses. We need to get from one place to another as a part of our daily routine. Our children need safe roads to get to school. We need a city that makes our life better, serves the public welfare, protects our citizens, respects our visitors, and encourages businesses to locate here. If our city was run by a City Manager who was groomed in a culture of public servitude things would be different. Our city employees would go out of their way to be of service. The police would be our friends. Business would feel welcome and our citizens would feel safe.

The time to act is now. The longer we wait to make the obvious changes, the harder it will be to change the culture of our city government. Encourage your city council to find a City Manager who has experience as a CEO of a successful customer-service oriented organization. Tell your elected officials that you want to live in a city that is a friend to its citizens and a good neighbor to our surrounding communities. Tell your city council that you want your children to grow up in a city where police are their friends who promote public safety through leadership and personal example.

More on the City of Milton budget can be found on their website:
http://www.cityofmiltonga.us/finance/budget-2009.html

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn, how fast were ya' goin'?

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Sam Dobrow. Let me get this straight. If the police attempt to deter,or stop crime and lets say duis since you brought it up,by preventing duis (so what if they leave a bar and are drunk I say good job).Or write a ticket and lets say speeding since its your biggest point. I know several officers and they dont even stop till 20 mph over the limit.,But if they drive around and dont do anything thats whay they are for. I say why dont you get the training, pledge your oath, and put on the badge.while risking your life..Oh thats write your a "freelance photogoropher". I say unemployed. Go and take photos of the bodies from victims of crime and traffic accidents.Then maybe you can put your two cents in.

1:14 PM

Anonymous said...

Dude how far right are you. I guess you are a repeat customer of police stops aren't you.

Anonymous said...

Milton moms are speeding maniacs taking their kids to school! No one drives in their own lane in Milton! Too much talking and texting going on too! We need the cops to prevent horrific, preventable accidents.

Anonymous said...

This is the craziest, most ridiculous post that I have ever seen on this Milton Blog and that's a very strong statement.

I have been to a few meetings with Chris and I have found him to be very polite, respectful, highly competent and well informed of all of the issues at hand. "Police State" - for God's sake, you have lost your mind.

Maybe the author of this article didn't live here when we were unincorporated and the Fulton County Sheriff's Department rarely patrolled our community and had a response time rivaling the pony express. I believe what is now our entire City received something like two patrols per week prior to incorporation.

My car and other cars in my neighborhood were broken into last year and the Milton Police were called and arrived in seconds. Though they pursued the crook on foot, he got away, but they did confiscate his car, identified him and arrested him within a few hours. All of us got our belongings back that morning. They processed their case; they later tried him and convicted him. It would have taken Fulton County at least thirty minutes to show up and they never would have followed up, much less prosecuted, a car break in. This was one of the most pressing reasons why we voted to incorporate the City of Milton.

The author makes such a pitiful argument that our City is a Police State with your rationale being that our Police are actually chasing down bad guys and giving tickets to drivers who break the traffic laws. Like the previous bloggers have noted, it sounds like the author has been given a ticket and it venting against our Police who enforce the laws of the State of Georgia and our City. It is not the Police Department's fault that you or anyone else broke the law and got caught. Perhaps you need to alter your behavior.

If you do not like the laws as they are written, work within this democracy to have them changed, otherwise, obey the laws, don't speed, don't run red lights, a rolling stop at a four way stop is not acceptable, maintain your lane and don't drive drunk and please stop whining.

Mark Hancock

Anonymous said...

What a riot! You could have saved alot of keystrokes by just typing: "I am mad that the traffic laws are finally being enforced in our area". As for the poor honor student - glad she learned her lesson about speeding with a ticket rather than an accident - bet she keeps the foot off the pedal now right?

Keep it up Milton Police - I will say that folks at my office that pass through Milton have all taken notice of the stepped up enforcement and DO NOT speed down our roads anymore as they come in from Forsyth and Cherokee!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I could have stated it better than Mark has above...

If anyone sees a concerned group of citizens at a city council meeting that are worried about how we actually enforce laws in the city, please let me know so I can show up and tell them how ignorant they are.

Higher rates of enforcement are in place because that is what people went to the city and asked for, not because the city needs to make money...lol...what a crock of sh1+.

I guess you're always gonna have some dmubsiht that thinks that they should be able to drive however they'd like...cheers to them...I won't stop to help when you're bleeding in a ditch or wrapped around a pole.

-TA

Tim Enloe said...

This message is for Mark Hancock. Mark, if you could give me a call when you have a moment, I would like to speak with you.

Thanks!

Tim Enloe
Accessmilton.com
770 653 0552

Anonymous said...

Uh oh Mark, you are in trouble big time!

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Anonymous said...

Dude, I think you need to get a life.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with most of what Mr. Dobrow says. Having a close relative that is permanently brain damaged from a crash with a speeding teen, I say do whatever it takes to take speeders off our streets. Having a friend that was killed by a DUI driver, I say follow people from drinking establishments if that is what it takes! I'm very thankful for the Milton Police. I do think police should act with courtesy when dealing with the citizens of Milton, but I also think they should enforce the laws - especially the speeders and DUI's.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the Police!!!

Yes, I have been ticketed in my life, but can you imagine life without police officers?

Sometimes we all make mistakes. Pay your ticket and be thankful we have police officers!

I would not want to do their job...

Anonymous said...

Similar comments have been made about the police in Johns Creek. The simple fact is that prior to incorporation, there were maybe 2 Fulton County officers patrolling all of the unincorporated parts of the county north of the Atlanta line. With City Police forces now, we all have to learn that therer is real law and traffic enforcement and we all have to modify our behavior to conform with traffic laws that were not being enforced before. Johns Creek Council Members are referring to statistics that traffic fatalities are way down as a result and the same is probably true for all of North Fulton. Deal with it and drive safely for everyone's sake.