Editor’s Note: The Value of Assessment

How do we determine what we need vs. what we want? We place some things above others according to our need for comfort and perceptions of security. We do the same with our funds. We put things we need higher on the list than the things we simply want. Should our cities do the same?

For instance, police are entrusted with the protection of public interests. The public interest is not necessarily human interest, but the protection of the interests of monied individuals and landowners. The problem is that this is very expensive for the public and not those with money and landowners.

Is there a public service element to police work? In theory, yes. 

However, in certain areas of the city, this public service portion of the police occupation seems to manifest as a way to enclose and patrol the movements of Black and brown communities, poor people, and other marginalized groups. These areas are heavily patrolled, not just by officers, but also high-tech surveillance like cameras and ShotSpotter. Policing in these areas does not work for the safety of those individuals, as people in these poorer areas are more susceptible to criminal threat than perhaps other less desperate parts of the city. And cops don’t prevent criminal activity; they generally only appear at a crime scene after a crime has happened.  

The police are there, not to help, but to maintain a certain order that keeps the ‘unsavory’ folks away from sight. In these areas, police don’t always play by the rules and at times, blatantly disrespect the citizens and rules of decorum. 

Josh Wood’s piece this week about a warrantless LMPD raid in the post-‘Breonna’s Law’ climate raises these issues again — cops acting above the rules and blatantly being insensitive in order to push control on others. 

Will we see a change in our policing with the new Greenberg administration? The administration says that new transparency is their M.O. But will that extend to being transparent when cops fail citizens and breach their rights? Will we see Greenberg not only tell Louisville about police misdeeds, but also aggressively address it in a way that lets Louisville citizens live without fear of injury, invasion, or any other threat from the police force?

LEO will certainly be watching. At some point, the story of “bad cops” needs to become measurable reforms, or better yet, dissolution of the general need for punitive forces. 

I’ve written before about the punitive model for policing and crime punishment and prevention in this country and how it does not work. It does not prevent nor change criminal behaviors before they happen, so we need a new approach. A completely new system that gives citizens more power in deciding how they wish to deal with the management of crime in their areas. To those who don’t know the statistics, it seems that we’re asking for lawlessness and anarchy, but, according to the Vera Institute of Justice, with low-level offenses like drug possession responsible for 80% of arrests nationwide, we could create a more effective and efficient system. 

Most police time is non-emergent, and that alone is enough to make the cost-benefit analysis regarding policing. We’re putting billions of American dollars into a system that runs at a huge efficiency deficit. 

What else could we do with those dollars? In Louisville, specifically, we could change the entire city. Put every young child in quality early education and give people who’ve been mistreated by the system real avenues to finding dignity again. 

So, as you read through this issue of LEO, which is about assessing value in many ways — the value of police work, the value of love, and the value of our time — think about the ways in which our money and our time is spent, and consider what’s worth it. 

Is policing in the way it exists worth it? 

Is the struggle to find love worth it?

What could we do better?

One thing for sure to us, at LEO, is that we could definitely spend money more wisely if cops would just act like the people they accost are, in fact, actual people with feelings, fears, and rights. This small change would eliminate a lot of city funds being spent to pay families and victims of police violence and police ‘mistakes.’

About the Author

Editor’s Note: The Value of Assessment

Erica Rucker is LEO Weekly’s editor-in-chief. In addition to her work at LEO, she is a haphazard writer, photographer, tarot card reader, and fair-to-middling purveyor of motherhood. Her earliest memories are of telling stories to her family and promising that the next would be shorter than the first. They never were. You can follow Erica on Twitter, but beware of honesty, overt blackness, and occasional geeky outrage.


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