Idiot sodding bureaucracy

Yes, yes, we know what the rules are and we know why they’re there:

The problem stems from the fact that state law says the officer loses the right to directly buy the animal if he leaves the force while the dog “is still fit for duty” and the animal remains the property of the city of Marietta, where Mr Hickey is based.
“Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That’s just the way it is,” Paul Betram, Marietta Law Director, told WBNS.

So, the retiring police dog handler has raised money on the internet to buy his police dog as he retires. All cool, right?

No, of course not. Because the correct way to deal with this is through society, not rules. Yes, sure, we’ve got to have the rule so that the Governor’s idiot nephew doesn’t get to walk away with the State House when he retires from his job that lasts only as long as his Uncle’s does.

But the solution here is that we have a little bit of socially approved collusion, the auction is held, one person bids $1, Officer Hickey bids $2, the first bidder folds and 5,000 on watching locals cheer loudly, wipe away the occasional tear and dog and master potter off for a celebratory hot dog on the way to their well earned retirement.

As Elinor Ostrom pointed out to gain her Nobel in societies above a certain size we really do need to have property ownership laws. It’s only smaller ones where there’s a web of connections, Polayni’s mutual debts perhaps, which can get away with the societal and mutual enforcement of property rules.

Marietta Ohio, with 14,000 people, is too large for Ostrom’s mutual enforcement to work. The number of people in Marietta Ohio who would want to purchase a working police dog is small enough that it would indeed work. Because there would be sufficient social outrage against anyone who outbid Hickey.

We can even test this. Could we have a Bateman cartoon with the caption “The man who outbid the retiring police dog handler”? Could we imagine an Ealing comedy that starts with the auction and then the reaction of everyone in the town to the buyer who did outbid? With, of course, the inevitable denouement that he’s a bit of a bad one, the dog dobs him in and the handler makes the citizen’s arrest which jugs him.

Yes, we could indeed imagine both (we’ll get Steve to write the script for us). So, therefore, we think that such societal solutions would indeed work. Our deeper point being perhaps, as those Ealing films made so often, that sure there have to be rules. But the important thing is to know when to subvert them.

7 thoughts on “Idiot sodding bureaucracy”

  1. As this is a matter of state law wouldn’t the best option be for a representative in the state legislature to pass a 1-time exception?

    That does everything legally leaving no possible charges while allowing Ajax to go where he belongs. I can’t see any reason why this simple bill couldn’t be fast tracked and signed in a couple hours.

  2. I think the dog should sink his chompers into mr. Betram’s funny bits to show him how he’s most definitely not a shovel..

    Especially the bit where you can’t just hand over a trained dog to a new owner, and expect the dog to actually, y’know… listen..
    The whole point of basic training is that the dog does not accept commandos from anyone else than the handler/alpha to begin with.

  3. Or just allow handlers the right to keep the dogs when they retire if retraining or further use isn’t possible, even treating them as an object/asset you’d have to write them off as their maintenance costs would exceed their value.
    The auction route can be problematic as police authorities want to avoid being accused of skimming off the best stuff from recovered items etc. that they already auction so existing rules can be tight.

  4. “Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That’s just the way it is,” Paul Betram, Marietta Law Director, told WBNS.

    Its funny how the dog is ‘just property’ when the police are dealing with it and a ‘law enforcement officer’ when the public is dealing with it.

    If the handler ‘forgets’ his dog in the car overnight when he comes off shift, that’s ‘just unfortunate’ but if you look at the dog funny you’re going to get a ride to jail.

  5. “Grikath
    February 1, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    The whole point of basic training is that the dog does not accept commandos from anyone else than the handler/alpha to begin with.”

    That’s not what the training does – it teaches the dog what those commands *are*. Dog can, and are, used by more than one handler. Military dogs, for example (in the US) rarely keep a handler more than 2-3 years before the handler transfers to a new unit or promotes into a new position.

  6. Partially true, Agammamon.
    But you’ll agree with me that the transfer of a dog to a new handler is not the same as handing over a shovel: here is it, here’s the manual, don’t break it..
    Dogs don’t work that way. Even when the dogs are trained to work with multiple handlers you *still* have to be properly introduced to the dogs’ Pack.
    Even then.. the dog may well have a mind of its own about Matters..

  7. These dog’s ‘pack’ are the police force – just like a dog can be very aggressive towards anyone walking around your home but will listen and obey anyone in the family. All the dog knows is that there’s a new boss, same as the old boss.

    And police dogs with a mind of their own very quickly find themselves living at the Humane Society (for a week . . . ).

    The Handlers are trained in how to handle the dog and what needs to be done to establish their dominance. Its not very difficult to switch handlers, even repeatedly and on short notice.

    If this particular dog is still fit for service its not inappropriate at all to deny the retiring officer’s request that he take possession of it. A new handler can be assigned and the dog back on the street within days. It’ll just take a few weeks work before the new cop can get the dog to alert-on-command.

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