Officers’ time better spent solving crime

Apparently, we don't want our police force spending too much time on violent crime these days. No, it seems street vendors operating without buying a business license need more attention from law officers.

Or so it seems since city officials last week instructed Clovis police to start cracking down on those rascally vendors.

Judging from recent police call logs, though, real crime remains a problem around town, what with all the guns being shot off and knives being brandished, and cars and buildings being broken into. But, don't worry, if residents can't find a cop when they need one, check with the city's Public Works Committee members. They can assure you they have their priorities in order about those vending scofflaws.

Call us hand-wringers if you wish, but we believe most taxpayers would rather see our already busy police force focused on solving the thefts, robberies and homicides that plague our community. We don't believe most citizens worry about the bother those unlicensed sellers of T-shirts and puppies might create.

We understand legitimate complaints from local business owners who follow the ordinance and pay $35 a year for a license to sell things. The non-licensed vendors can be direct competition for brick-and-mortar businesses and that's not fair. But so, too, are those garage sale and Facebook page merchants of the moment.

The most important issue is how should Clovis' finite police resources be used. Should officers divvy up their time between making sure non-threatening vendors buy a license or get off the corner while trying also to stop or capture the criminals whose actions threaten our lives and property?

Call us free-market advocates, but why does government's "fairness" solution almost always involve collecting more taxes?

Public Works Committee members — among them City Commissioners Len Vohs, Chris Bryant, Fidel Madrid and Randy Crowder — have voiced their concerns about public safety and street vendors. We must have missed the evidence they surely have that suggests street vendors sell dangerous kitty cats, cowboy hats or Crescent wrenches.

The Public Works Committee, don't forget, made our lives so much better in 2011 in recommending two-hour parking limits downtown. In that case, at least, they said there were no plans to actually require police to enforce that bizarre ordinance.

If it really is essential to force athletic shoe and veggie and T-shirt and critter-selling people throughout the city to obtain official credentials, perhaps the city fathers and mothers should appoint someone other than our patrol force to handle this so-called problem.

Maybe the Public Works Committee members could make better use of their time and go write the citations themselves for dumb laws like this one.

— Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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