151 Band

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Want change? Do something.

Had an interesting conversation last evening with a fellow "Facebooker" about the concerns of public safety and the potential of job losses for firefighters and police in Oklahoma City.  I made the mistake of using sarcasm in a comment and suddenly, I became an enemy of public safety.

Ridiculous assumption.

The fact of the matter is that when you watch You Tube videos of Oklahoma City Council meetings, rarely is the gallery filled to overflowing.  Usually, you see the same three or four faces stirring it up and largely, the public perception is that firefighters and the FOP are kind of disengaged and perhaps it's because they don't want to lose their jobs that may be on the line already.  In my estimation, if members of public safety really want change, the rank-and-file officers and firefighters have to mobilize and create a public presence wherein they must be reckoned with.  Otherwise, Oklahoma City leaders will continue to be less than concerned about their jobs and their desires.

Forget arbitration, forget mediation and contract negotiations.  Members of public safety are also voters.  They have within their grasp a communications infrastructure that is powerful - but it must be utilized to its fullest capabilities.  Much like my friends at the Oklahoma Rifle Association, they haven't created the kind of voice and presence the City leaders have because, well, City leaders have financial backers with very deep pockets.

I remember an interview I did with Sheriff Whetsel one time where he brought in spreadsheets that showed how much his deputies earned and I was astonished.  They are morbidly underpaid.  The same applies for firefighters.  But until there is a unified, concentrated mass communications effort, the aggregate result will remain the same.  City leaders need to see the FOP and firefighters uniting en masse and showing up to the City Council meetings.  When the videos go viral on You Tube, the "average Joe" will pay attention.