mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Chicago Taxpayers Fund Aspiring Crime Novelists

The Chicago Police Department is trying some rather unorthodox programs. This NYT story profiles a new course taught at Chicago’s police academy, where uniformed officers receive instruction from crime novelist Charlie Newton on how to improve their writing skills as preparation for writing police novels of their own.

Via Meadia has nothing against the idea in and of itself. Chicago policemen surely have a number of interesting and unique experiences over the course of their careers, and for them to acquire the literary skills needed to share those stories with the world is surely not a bad thing.

But teaching cops to write crime novels does seem a bit, well, spendthrift. The state of Illinois is running massive budget deficits, and the city of Chicago is also facing down fiscal Armageddon. Asking taxpayers to foot the bill for police fiction writing at a time when important services employees are being slashed left and right strikes us as symptomatic of a bureaucratic mindset completely out of step with reality.

No doubt the cost to taxpayers of this class is a drop in the bucket, but it’s a sign of just how lost and out of touch management has become.  Chicago and the state of Illinois are broke. The pension system is one of the most insecure in the country. Basic services are being slashed up and down the line. Meanwhile, the human resources department or whoever sits around dreaming up bright new ideas like novel writing classes for cops.

Via Meadia‘s advice to state and city governments everywhere: first, make sure that the pension system for your cops is paid up and sustainable.  Second, check to see that your city or state economy is growing rapidly enough to sustain the tax burden already in place.  Third, pay your cops enough so that they have a reasonable amount of money for continuing education should they be interested in pursuing it. Fourth, let them pick whatever courses they want from the community colleges, private vendors and other service providers out there in the world.   Fifth, cut the human resources budget and staff.  Drastically.  These departments are almost always overstaffed. Sixth, use that money to fight crime.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Kris

    I fully agree with your larger points. In practice, I wonder whether this isn’t just a necessary remedial writing course in disguise.

  • Toni

    The Blue Social Model at work with the Thin Blue Line. As it were.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service