WASHINGTON, DC - The president signed a new bill into law that will shut down the police force of most major cities in the United States, and charge the local news media with taking over law enforcement. By the end of the year, instead of police officers and police detectives, criminals will be pursued by news helicopters and teams of investigative reporters
The law, formerly known as the National Media Law Enforcement Support bill, orders fifteen major metropolises, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Dallas, to disband their police force in fifteen days. The remainder of the cities throughout the nation will follow according to a time table that will leave a majority of the U.S. without local law enforcement by the end of the year. The money formerly allocated to the police force will be given as subsidies to local news agencies to allow them to increase their staff to meet the demand.
The bill's main sponsor, Senator Bill Kopelke of Oklahoma, explained that he was driven by the rising crime rates in his state, coupled with the increased efficiency of TV news. During a break, he explained, "I was watching the police chase one night on KQBD, and they lost track of the car they were chasing. But the station's helicopter was still on him, broadcasting his location and even shining their spotlight on him. I thought to myself, they're doin' a better job of catching this guy than the police. That's when the lightbulb went on."
Police car chases have become extremely controversial in the last few years. Concerns over the dangers of high speed pursuits through populated areas have led many cities to severely restrict or even ban police from chases fleeing suspects. In this area, it's believed that the presence of the news media as law enforcement will benefit the most.
"Before the new policy," said Kopelke, "almost every extended car chase was covered live by local news agencies who followed them with helicopters. Not only do news helicopters far outnumber police helicopters, but they're relentless and all equipped with cameras. By broadcasting chases live on national television, the entire city becomes part of the investigation. We'll set up a toll-free hotline for the public to call in if they spot a speeding vehicle, and can tip us off to what direction it's going if the helicopters lose track of it.
"The same applies to suspects trying to get away on foot. Rather than waste manpower chasing down criminals, the media can just assign helicopters to chase them down from the air. With all those copters hovering over the city, it's hard to imagine how anyone could get away. And then the helicopters can give traffic reports at the same time. Let's see the police do that."
As far as solving crimes, the new law allows the news media to assist with their investigative reporting units. Once a suspect is identified, a sketch will be created by the news media and broadcast on television. Hotlines will be established to allow citizens to call in tips and leads. Instead of detectives, investigative reporters will be assigned to cases.
"Investigative reporters have proved aggressive and enthusiastic," said Kopelke. "They're already equipped with a large staff, huge resources, and dedication to root out the details. When a suspect is found, the reporters will swarm on them with cameras and microphones to try to get them to confess. We expect the stress of having reporters hounding them will drive criminals to turn themselves in."
Senator Richard Bliss, one of the bill's co-sponsors, is enthusiastic about the law. "We believe that this new system will become the model for nations worldwide. The best part is that the news channels will be competing with each other, and everyone knows that competition improves efficiency. With three different news organizations chasing down criminals, we expect the crime rate to go down significantly. The only problem I can see is that ratings will drive which crimes get solved. As they say in the business, if it bleeds, it leads. So it will be the most sensational, violent, or sexual crimes that receive the most attention from the media. Smaller or non-violent crimes will most likely be ignored. Then again, who really cares about those, anyway?"
Denise McGann, president of NBC, was quiet about the law. She only made a brief statement at the press conference that said in part, "We're proud to be a part of helping our community. We also think this will be a huge boost to our ratings."
If the plan is successful, there are already plans being drawn up to expand the program. Said Kopelke, "We're already talking about replacing the FBI with the national news agencies like CNN and MSNBC, and the U.S. Department of Justice is launching a pilot program to be replaced by channels like CourtTV. Who needs a trial to assign guilt or innocence when you already have teams of legal experts on television weighing in on evidence and testimony on an hourly basis? If things keep going this way, the U.S. government might just be whittled down to the IRS."