You Have Reached the FBI. Please Leave a Message.

The following blog post by David Firestone is reprinted from today’s NY Times.  Just another example of the non-governing government currently sitting in Washington, DC.

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“For 10 workdays over the next year, the nation’s law enforcement agency will be off duty. Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will stay home, leads will not be followed, crime will not be fought. Only a skeleton crew will be on duty — because the government doesn’t have enough money to meet the bureau’s payroll.

This isn’t happening as a result of some sudden economic crisis; the country obviously has the resources to pay for the F.B.I. It’s thanks to the political crisis that Republicans manufactured two years ago in order to force unnecessary spending cuts. They threatened not to raise the debt ceiling, and the resulting impasse produced the across-the-board reductions known as the sequester.

The cuts have inflicted the most pain on those most reliant on government services, such as the poor — those who need Sec. 8 housing, or Head Start programs, or unemployment insurance — and contractors, including scientists and defense companies. But the absurd impact on the F.B.I. is a reminder that everyone has been affected by the Tea Party’s misguided demands, whether or not they feel it in their daily lives.

The bureau has to cut $700 million from a budget of $8 billion, and because 60 percent of its costs are for personnel, that means layoffs and furloughs. As Michael Schmidt reported in The Times this morning, the most efficient way to do that is to close the bureau’s headquarters and other offices for 10 days over the next year.

It has also frozen hiring (leaving 2,200 positions vacant), reduced training, and stopped buying cars, which is a big problem for agents in rural areas. A former F.B.I. official told The Times that the long-term impact will be substantial, particularly on intelligence gathering and complex investigations like financial fraud.

In other words, a country with enormous wealth is behaving as if it were on the edge of financial disaster, putting its own internal security at risk for purely ideological reasons.

You might think lawmakers would see this kind of damage and sheepishly try to correct their course. In fact, the opposite is happening. House Republicans are pushing for even deeper cuts in next year’s budget, and Democrats who want to end the sequester will have little choice but to keep it going for another year.

In the meantime, if you have a federal crime to report, please leave a message on the F.B.I.’s answering machine. You might hear back when the furlough ends.”

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About stephenomeara

My name is Jim Jordan. I have had the privilege of working with the Boston Police Department and hundreds more departments over my nearly 30-year career in police administration and city government. I am now teaching and consulting independently at www.sergeantsleadership.org. I have learned the best of what I know from the thousands of smart, dedicated and ethical police personnel and scholars who have guided me along the way. My address is named for the great Reform commissioner of the Boston Police at the turn of the 20th century. Commissioner O'Meara died just a short while before the Strike in 1919. He was replaced by a vicious puppet (of Gov. Coolidge) named Edwin U. Curtis. Had O'Meara lived events may have turned out quite differently.
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