Posts Tagged ‘law enforcement’

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Getting Fired for Medical Marijuana Use: Why Should Employers Drug Test At All?

09.15.10

Many people are affected by the drug war.  Just take a look at our southern border.

But those aren’t the only ones.

While the states work the whole federalism angle on the legality of marijuana use, there’s bound to be some snags.  And in the case of some people, it’s costing them their jobs.

Glenn Greenwald:

In some cases, workers have been fired for failing drug tests despite having prescriptions saying, in effect, that what they are doing is legal according to the laws of their states.

Here’s the thing: for an employer, you want your employees to be efficient, dependable, and hard-working. If an employee can accomplish all of this while smoking weed — legally prescribed or not — then what’s the issue? If he’s a total wastoid (yeah, wastoid, I said it, bringing it back along with high-tops and snap braclets), then his piss-poor performance should be enough to warrant disciplinary action, regardless of its cause.

Now, I do understand that there are HR costs involved with the hiring of a new employee so companies will want to best determine whether or not this applicant will be a quality addition to their team before they hire him — but, why test current employees?  You already hired them! They already passed your rigorous interview process (so, if they’re sucking at work then you might want to look into revamping your HR department, not firing your employee cause he takes a few puffs to ease his anxiety).  They’re doing their jobs competently, otherwise you could just drag them onto the carpet for their poor job review and cut the dead weight that way.   It’s pointless.

The problem with drug testing is that – NEWS FLASH!!!not all wastes-of-office-space take drugs and not all druggies are inept at work, despite what our current drug war culture would like you to believe. (Total mindblow, I know.)  It’s the whole “well, some pot smokers are lazy and don’t get anything done at work so we’re going to punish them all regardless of their individual aptitude” way of using a gravity bong when a simple one-hitter would suffice.

But since companies fancy themselves as some sort of moral authority now, why stop at drug testing?

  • Why not require me to bring in my hard drive so they can scan it for pirated software and music?
  • Why not scour my glove box to make sure that I indeed have proof of car insurance?
  • Why not stop by my apartment to make sure I’m not illegally leeching some wireless Internet from my neighbors?

I mean, all of those morally questionable practices could affect my job performance, believe you me. Without loads of music to fill my iPod, I’ll go insane at my desk and take my co-workers with me, kicking and screaming. Without car insurance, I could get into an accident, not be able to get a new car, be stuck taking public transport, and consistently arriving late to work irritable and making everyone around my desk miserable as a result.

And without the Internet at home… well, let’s just not imagine that dark, dark world, okay? I just had a glimpse into that lifeless hell when WordPress glitched up, forcing me to re-write this blog, nearly leading me into a total meltdown at my desk — a complete over-reaction, sure, but I almost went social (the post-modern version of going postal).

But, hey. At least I’m not smoking medical herb for my migraines, right?

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Laid Off Police Officers: Economic Downturn Causing Increase in Violent Crime?

07.29.10

Five laid off police officers in Bay City, Michigan retaliated by renting billboard space with images that suggest that the lack of cops on the streets could lead to more violent crimes, all in an effort to get back their jobs.

The cops haven’t won much support for their inflammatory billboards, nor have they gotten their jobs back, even being labeled “domestic terrorists” by some.

The police say they paid for the two billboards that went up last week to bring attention to the impasse in negotiations between its union and city officials, who are seeking a 10.8 percent reduction in labor costs from eight unions to tackle a $1.66 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that began July 1. The billboards also spotlight the city’s decision to replace the roof on city hall for $1.6 million.

The police would have you believe that the city put its citizens’ safety at risk in order to put a new roof on city hall.  But just how much less safe are Bay Citians with less than 60 cops on the beat to serve and protect a population of roughly 35,000?

This article doesn’t say just how many officers under 60 the city currently has, so it’s tough to run these numbers perfectly so let’s find a range. If there were 60 cops employed, that would average out to 1.7 officers per 1,000 residents.  If there were 55 cops employed, that would be about 1.57 officers per 1,000 residents.  So, rough estimate: 1.6 cops per 1,000 residents.

After a little investigation — because how are we to know the value of that number without any other information? — I found the average number of police officers for Midwestern cities with populations between 25,000 and 49,000 people (in 2008) was 1.7. Given that we’re dealing with averages and estimates here, that’s pretty much right at the average for the region.

Seattle, a city 17 times the size of Bay City, has also recently had people taking to visible venues — this time the op-ed page of The Seattle Times to voice their concerns about laid off police officers, which has brought up the question: how many cops is enough?

UCLA professor of public policy Mark Kleiman … says there’s no generally accepted benchmark for police staffing levels. But he says a decent police-to-population ratio is 1.5 to 2 officers per 1,000 residents.

Looks like Bay City falls safely into that acceptable range.

Given the state of Bay City’s economy — part of Michigan, which has suffered one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates for the duration of this recession — it should come as no surprise that the city has had to make some tough budgetary decisions.

And while I feel for the laid off police officers for having to join the ranks of the unemployed, it seems foolish to have squandered what money they may have had saved up on an inflammatory billboard that will most likely do nothing to change the reality that, until the economy rebounds, there just literally isn’t enough money left to employ them.

Photo courtesy of Christopher P. Bills’ Flickr Photostream

(H/T Brad Grabowski for the link)