This letter concerns the recent request from the Hancock County sheriff for protective riot gear. I say protective because I believe Sheriff Kane when he says that he is concerned with the protecting the safety of his officers from potentially violent acts and diseases such as the coronavirus, and not as a means for enforcing punitive measures on the population.
While this request may seem tone-deaf in its timing and immoderate given no evidence of riots in our area, it is most important to ask if this request is simply nonessential. Our current policing structure, which grew dramatically from the early 2000s with the promise of a temporary expansion, is probably not sustainable in the future, especially if the economy has a downturn. Monies should always be allocated in relation to the future, not to the preservation of the current state.
For example, due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus crisis, money such as what Kane originally asked for would be much better spent on finding solutions to how our schools will operate in the near future if the crisis continues, as it appears it may. While not a parent myself, what I have heard from numerous parents of children of all ages throughout Hancock County is that distance/video learning is not acceptable, despite all the work the teachers have been doing. Many parents have mentioned that if this situation were to continue they most likely would simply not send their children to school for a part or all of the coming year.
If there is extra money available in the midst of all the necessary infrastructure and added expenses from the coronavirus, this would appear to be more in the direction in which spending should be directed. Money allocated toward continuing the free public education we can all benefit from is money well spent; money spent making sure children get adequate nutrition, health care and socialization is money well spent, which many children get only through attendance at public school.
This is but one example in which there is an immediate pressing need that will help our community in the future; there will for sure be others, especially if the local economy falls into a deep recession. This would be time and money to be spent into the future, not to help bolster a present that is not working. If it was working, riot gear would not be needed.