Military and Police

Never Let a Bad Idea Go to Waste

Everything old is new again. This saying seems appropriate in certain left-coast cities such as Portland and Seattle. (Bad ideas seem to proliferate on the left. You know…being so well-fertilized.) First, an anecdote illustrating what’s old is new.

Several years ago, I was driving my patrol car through road construction. The city had torn up the streets to install tracks for a “new” light rail system. An officer I knew was directing construction traffic and waved me over.

He had a sardonic smirk as he approached. He said he was getting a ton of overtime because of some unexpected delays. He told me construction crews had run into—any guesses? Yes, light rail tracks buried under the streets from one of the defunct trolley (light rail) systems that ran from the late 19th to the later 20th century.

While not costing as much as boondoggle trollies (yes, they routinely ran up deficits even 50, 75, and 100+ years ago), Seattle’s leftist leaders want to reintroduce Community Service Officers (CSOs) to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The city discontinued the CSO Unit back in 2003.

CSOs are non-sworn, unarmed officers who assist sworn police officers with tasks such as connecting victims with services, providing transportation, and handling non-emergent duties, ostensibly, freeing up police officers to handle 911 emergencies.

What’s wrong with this concept? Nothing, as an idea. CSOs assisted me many times. However, back then most, if not all, CSOs were retired SPD police officers, which, at least for me, instilled confidence in the position. We knew they’d recognize what they should and shouldn’t do and would not interfere with our duties.

Today, with the extreme difficulties leftist cities are experiencing with just hiring and retaining police officers, I don’t think many former police officers are likely to become CSOs. And with the left’s anti-cop attitude, I’m not sure they’d hire former and retired cops even if they applied. I can only imagine, and cringe, at the type of person these lefty loons will hire to do the job. It’s highly possible they’ll be people who may clash with rather than help police officers.

So, what’s changed for this new crop of leftists who want to bring back what their leftist predecessors cut loose? Well, for one, things have gotten worse and departments need real cops first. You don’t try to give a community dessert when you can’t serve them a meal. The 12 CSO positions Seattle wants to fill won’t make a dent in a city of some 700,000 residents and 1,350 (well, that’s what SPD is supposed to have) sworn police officers.

For the left, the CSO concept is just another program that looks good in theory, maybe even has some value if done right, but mainly serves to make the politicians appear to be doing something constructive—oh, and being virtuous.

Down in Portland, Oregon, that city’s “unarmed” cop program is even more curious. Mayor Ted Wheeler (the second-worst mayor in America—top spot cemented by New York City Mayor Comrade Bill de Blasio) heads a city famous for its rioting class. Antifa, BLM, and other leftist radicals ply their violent trade regularly in the Rose City, harassing and assaulting the people of Portland with near impunity.

Recently, Antifa brown shirts viciously assaulted Quillette reporter Andy Ngo. These thugs put Ngo in the hospital with, among other visible injuries, a brain hemorrhage. Watching a gang of thugs beating a peaceful journalist was infuriating.

As I cop, I wondered: Where are the cops? Then I remembered who runs Portland. The second-worst mayor in America. Ted Wheeler, the mayor who won’t allow Portland cops to enforce the law. Consistently, #2 Ted supports Antifa and BLM law-breakers over Portland’s law-enforcers.

Now, you’d think a city with all these riots would want to preserve all the crowd control resources it can. “But noooo!” as John Belushi used to say on “Saturday Night Live.” The mayor axed the mounted police from the budget in favor of hiring “unarmed” officers.

And where is #2 Ted getting the funding for the unarmed officers? According to the Willamette Week, #2 Ted got the money when he disbanded the mounted police (cops on horses). He’s traded not only one of the best public relations tools but also one of the most efficient crowd control resources for unarmed “cops.”

This decision staggers the rational mind. Supposedly, as in Seattle, #2 Ted intends for these Public Safety Support Specialists (PS3s) to handle non-emergency calls that will free-up sworn police officers to handle emergencies.

However, the Willamette Week (WW) reports, Mayor Wheeler “pledged to replace it [mounted police] with something that could be more valuable: officers [PS3s] who would work primarily on improving Portland police’s relationship with residents living on the margins of the city.

“But 17 months later, those replacements haven’t arrived. Multiple sources tell WW that the mayor’s office didn’t begin negotiating with the police union for these jobs for over a year. Even now, the mayor and the union are quarreling over what the jobs will entail: The union says the new officers will spend little time in the streets.”

So, the city has neither mounted police nor any (quite specifically) unarmed PS3s.

One thing that struck me about the reporting in Portland is the emphasis on the “unarmed” nature of these new officers. The left truly believes the problems in places like Portland and Seattle are not with criminals and violence but with guns and cops—and cops with guns in particular. This thinking is deranged.

In fact, WW also reported a former Portland Park Ranger saying, “When you bring your gun and a badge into a situation, it can make some people uneasy. If you’re not wearing a gun, it kind of changes things.” Yeah, when you bring your gun it makes criminals and ignorant liberals uneasy, and it changes things from safer to less safe. But that’s liberal thinking for you: it’s not about what is safer but what they feel is safer.

But as long as the voters in these cities continue to elect such ineffective, self-serving virtue signalers, their residents can continue to wonder about how to fix an unsolved problem for which there is and has been a clear answer: Enforce the law equally against everyone.

While vagrancy, drug abuse, and street crime will always exist, at least, the crisis portion of the situation is solvable, if only our nation’s liberal leaders would lead, effectively. Not that it matters to #2 Ted and his ilk. Perhaps #2 Ted is trying to nudge #1 de Blasio off his pedestal. Aim high, #2 Ted—I haven’t ruled out the possibility you could become the worst mayor in America.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at

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