Wednesday, October 31, 2007

There's more than one way to trim the budget


Jan Burke reports:

A story by Mike Martindale and George Hunter in the Detroit News reports that the state legislature has decided that it will help to remedy its budget woes by closing two of the state's seven crime labs. As the article reports, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors across the state opposed this decision....

Michigan's legislators are practicing a false economy here. Trials will be delayed, jail and investigation costs will rise, and worst of all, the lives and safety of the people of Michigan will be put at risk. Forensic science is not a luxury item. It is an integral part of fair and efficient law enforcement and justice systems.

The legislators should have a long talk with folks in Oregon, where the state still struggles with problems caused when labs there were closed as a budget measure a few years ago. Seen now as a tremendous error in judgment, Oregon also learned that forensic science labs are not light switches that can be turned on and off every time someone wants to save a buck or two.

But what's to worry? There's no crime in Michigan. I don't know if anyone has refuted this particular Debbie Schlussel comment:

Trust me, if there were no fires and Detroit was a peaceful place, there'd be no reason to marshal hundreds of orange-clad volunteers this week, and have curfews, last night through Halloween. And they wouldn't have so many police officers scheduled to work.

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