Under full disclosure, one of our daughters is a police officer with the San Luis Obispo Police Department. So, when I read the letter stating that anyone with a high school diploma could do the job, I was really startled (“Use money for schools,” Nov. 14).
For one thing, the minimum requirement is an associate’s degree with a full four-year degree “preferred,” plus police academy and any further in-service training for specialized duty.
I don’t know how many Thanksgivings, Christmases and other family parties my daughter has not participated in because for the past 22 years of her professional career, here and elsewhere, she was on duty, making sure yours was peaceful.
As a member of the county bomb squad, she is on call if an incendiary device is found.
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Also, because she serves on the county’s crisis intervention team, when a call comes into the station that someone is acting irrationally, is filthy dirty, is obviously homeless and mentally ill or is frightening citizens, my daughter is the person called when she is on duty.
She then has to coordinate services among agencies for that person.
She also coordinates and teaches some of the classes for ongoing training between county Behavioral Health and the city and county law enforcement agencies in an effort to keep mentally ill people out of our jails. And when not doing these jobs, she is a patrol officer in your neighborhood, trying to make sure you are safe, or is taking the drunk person who has urinated in your doorway and has just thrown up in the patrol car out to County Jail.
If only a high school diploma were necessary for the work our city and county law enforcement officers provide.
When an incendiary device is found and an incompetent bomb squad member dies, are you the one who wants to call his or her family members to tell them you weren’t willing to pay more in taxes to hire a professional?
When that rattle at your door turns out to be a mentally ill person who has violent tendencies, do you want an incompetent officer to respond and trigger a violent incident? When your family member is distraught and is considering jumping from a bridge, do you want a professional to talk them down or someone with only a GED and no training?
My daughter receives ongoing training in all of these activities so that she can provide the citizens of San Luis Obispo city and county with the best professional response possible. And although she is unique in her dad’s, her sisters’ and my book, I doubt that she is unique among her fellow officers in her dedication to her profession.
I would suggest that before people make value judgments on what law enforcement does, a little research might be helpful. It would certainly make this dialogue a bit more rational.
Shirley Bianchi is a former county supervisor for the 2nd District, which covers the North Coast.