When the City of Savannah and Chatham County decided to separate the police department again everyone knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare. Which department was to get what when the precincts were divided--which building belonged to which department, who owned the equipment? They're probably still sorting all that out. The county, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, made a great choice for police chief hiring Jeff Hadley but I knew he was going to have a rough roe to hoe. A great challenge to build a new department from the ground up essentially and he's handled it well so far.
However, he still needs more officers and finding them has been the far greater challenge than all the logistical mess. According to a column by Kelly Quimby in the Savannah Morning News on March 9th, 60 officers had been sworn in so far. But Quimby points out that's only 50% of what he needs. To get to a full force he wants about 60 more. Now let me say that I have no earthly idea why anyone wants to be a cop in this day in age but THANK GOD someone does. The anti-cop media and hate groups that shall remain nameless but have been known to march around, blocking traffic and chanting, "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon!" accuse them (police officers) of getting up in the morning with the sole purpose of going out a killing citizens of color.
Nevertheless, Chief Hadley has not had a lack of applicants, the shocker is that the old axiom "honest is the best policy" has gone by the wayside. In his first report to the Chatham County Commission he told them it was going to take awhile to fill the ranks because of the extensive vetting process of background checks has to be thorough. Above all in a para-military organization like the police candidates have to be trusted. Their word has to be their bond. And therein lies the problem--Chief Hadley told the commissioners, "Specifically, relative to the polygraph examination, what we are experiencing with our non-certified candidates is about 70-to-80 percent failure rate...that's concerning." DO YA' THINK???
On the good end that means of every ten candidates only three are passing the polygraph and on the bad end only two out of every ten. If you were about to go into surgery and were told your survival chances were only 20-to-30-percent would you tell your doctor, "Well, let's get going--what are you waiting for?" Never mind, I already know your answer. "No way, Jose'" comes to mind.
What in the world has happened here? Only 20-to-30 percent of the applicants are trustworthy? That statistic is backed up by Garden City's new top-cop, Chief Gil Ballard. In his address to the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Savannah this week, he reiterated Chief Hadley's claims. He has the same problem in his hamlet. He told us that if you can't trust your officers you lose all credibility. This is pathetic.
Where have we gone off the rails here? Honesty no longer seems to be a priority along with drug use is having a domino effect not only along the "thinning Blue Line" but in other jobs like the military and even jobs that pay very well. Case-in-point, Georgia Power lamented a few years back that they were having trouble finding welders for the new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogel. Apparently welding a nuclear reactor is a bit more precise and complex than say a truck frame. The starting pay for the job? (Are you sitting down?) $125.00 an hour! No, I didn't put the decimal point in the wrong place, that's one-hundred, twenty-five-dollars per hour. One would think filling the ranks for those jobs would be the proverbial lead-pipe cinch. Not so! They said it was tough finding people who would show up on time and sober!
Along with honesty, work ethic has also gone by the wayside as well. Chief Ballard said it just isn't what it used to be with young people. One businessman in town told me that when he was a kid working in an ice cream shop that when the boss told them that they might have to stay open an extra hour on a Friday and Saturday night because business was so good, they were excited! Yes--overtime, more money, that was great! Nowadays tell these kids they were going to be open an extra hour and most of them just wail and moan. What's happened to having pride in our jobs and workmanship? I'm open for suggestions.
Is it the era of "everybody gets a trophy?" In our schools now can't fail these sensitive children anymore. Grading papers with red ink has been replaced with purple because purple is so much more soothing. Teachers have told me that a kid can turn in a paper with all the wrong answers or nothing on it but their name and whether it's spelled correctly or not they cannot give them less than a 60! When they hear an opposing point of view they suddenly need aroma therapy, safe space, coloring books and a teddy bear. PUH-LEEZE! My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Hathaway not only had a "you're not listening stick" to whack us on the butt with if we got out of line, he drilled holes in it so you could hear it coming! There were no school shootings and teachers were held in reverence. If you were caught in the hall between classes without a hall pass you were in real trouble. When I was a substitute at one of our local high schools several years ago I was given a list of the kids in my classes who had a parole officer!
The problem Chief Hadley is having is the result of this "let's not punish the poor little darlings, they might be scared for life" philosophy. Lying is no big deal. So don't look for him to fill the ranks anytime soon. As someone once said: "If you have integrity nothing else matters; if you don't have integrity nothing else matters." My folks always told me if you tell the truth you won't ever have to change your story.