The theme of this year’s Old Timers Day Parade is a salute to the local law-enforce community — the police department, the sheriff’s department and the Highway Patrol.
We take these people for granted all too often. The fact is that without them we would have more crime to deal with, and more agony and death on our streets.
And it is a statistical fact that the presence of law enforcement in any community is good for the economy of that community.
The more police you put on the streets, the more the bad guys stay away.
If the bad guys stay away, normal folks are more likely to go out into neighborhoods that they might otherwise avoid.
This engenders economic confidence ... that money spent locally to build businesses won’t be wasted by the prevalence of crime.
The streets and roads also are safer.
Madera has crazy people driving on its streets. Two days ago, I was driving south on Schnoor Avenue and was passed by a car doing 50 or so miles an hour. The car ran stop signs. Fortunately, it didn’t hit anything or anybody, but when you have idiot drivers on the road, the only way to get them off the road, or at least to slow them down, is to have a high-profile traffic-patrol presence.
There’s a saying, and I think it’s true, that if the “small” laws are enforced, the “bigger” laws take care of themselves.
Everybody in this town seems to run stop signs. It’s a wonder there aren’t more fender-benders. More patrol vehicles on the streets might motivate people to actually stop at stop signs instead of coasting through.
A lot of law-enforcement time is taken up by answering calls from residents who spot something or someone suspicious in their neighborhoods. While those calls may seem of low priority, they really aren’t.
Would-be thieves prowl through neighborhoods, helping themselves to mail from mailboxes, looking for houses that may be easy pickings for burglars, and burglarizing cars.
Again, the presence of a patrol car tends to send those miscreants on their way.
On the highways, the California Highway Patrol presence is absolutely vital. Drivers tend to speed, they tend to take unnecessary chances in the way they pass other vehicles or weave in and out of traffic.
Merely by their presence, Highway Patrol officers prevent much carnage, if only by motivating drivers to slow down. And if there is an accident, CHP officers often are the first responders on the scene, to help the injured and investigate the causes of the accident.
Out in the county, sheriff’s deputies patrol long, dark roads, responding to calls of thefts and also, unhappily, to domestic disputes that get out of hand and may end up as assaults or worse. In the county, very often the men and women in uniform are the only civilizing force when too much drink is mixed with too much temper.
All these folks work hard to keep us safe, to keep our property values from depreciating and to maintain law and order in its many forms.
It’s a good thing the Kiwanis Club chose to honor law enforcement in today’s Old Timers Day parade.