Baffled why GOP is in such support of GPD

To the Editor:

Ethel Peters’ letter of Nov. 13 on behalf of the local GOP, makes me wonder why the GOP is so resolute in supporting the ballooning budget of the Geneva Police Department. Having been a reader of the Finger Lake Times for years and years I don’t recall any representative of the GOP defending Geneva’s public schools. I don’t recall the GOP stepping in to defend long-time Geneva citizens from environmental fallout from the foundry disaster. I don’t recall the local GOP being concerned about the quality of Seneca Lake’s watershed. Only “law-and-order” — makes one wonder.

Ms. Peters fails to note that the GPD refused any form of cuts as the city budget was being constructed under the extraordinary fiscal challenges brought on by COVID-19. It baffles me that the GPD refused to show any solidarity with city workers or with city residents at large who have seen wages frozen or salaries cut, or worse eliminated. In fact, Ms. Peters asks city residents, many of whom are stretched thin, to forgo tax cuts (very un-GOP) and foot the GPD’s bill — “Let’s restore the budget cuts to the police department, even if it means no tax rate cut in 2021.” Next time the city schools face a budget cut and contemplate eliminating arts, language, AP, pre-K, or special education programs, I’ll remind Ms. Peters to marshal her conservative fellow-travelers to demand appropriate increases in the school tax in order to save these essential programs.

Geneva residents’ safety will not be affected, despite Ms. Peters’ scare tactics — other cities comparable to our own have smaller police departments addressing as many complaints as the GPD. While ratios of population to the size of police forces are compelling evidence that the GPD is overstaffed, the other method of measurement is workload. The GPD complains it handles too many complaints: if Geneva is an unsafe city, as an increased workload might indicate, we should ask why the city is unsafe. What structural issues have made it so over the years, perhaps generations? This raises the moral question for lifelong residents: What have you done to make it unsafe? What have you failed to invest in over the generations?

Treating the lack of safety at the end of a series of decisions rather than intervening at the beginning seems a colossal waste of money and human resources. Where does such an intervention begin — not with the police, but with schools, after-school programs, decent and secure housing, healthcare. In other words a commitment to ending conditions of precarity. If we wait to the end, to intervene with policing, we will spiral into the conservatives’ fever-dream of apocalyptic apartheid.

JAMES MCCORKLE

Geneva

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