They don’t make many cops like retired Cleveland “supercop” James Simone any more, says Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris. Simone, 64, plays by a set of rules that he calls his ATM policy: “Ask them. Tell them. Make them.” He tells Morris: “I’d rather smack a kid in the back of his head or carefully get the attention of a disorderly than slap them with a felony arrest that may follow them and ruin their lives. But we’re not allowed to do that anymore. Police work has changed. Politicians run the department. We’re not allowed to use the fear of heavy-handed policing to try and influence behavior.”
Does nonlethal, extra-judicial punishment lead to a more just and orderly society?, Morris asks, calling it “an untested thesis.” He suggests that “perhaps stronger policing once created an alternative to needless felonies: Deal with the long arm of the law on the streets rather than in the courts.” In the course of his career, he sent five men to the morgue. Each death was ruled justified. Simone joined the police force after serving in Vietnam and quickly established a reputation as a guy who wanted to help, who wanted to be liked, but also as the guy who led the charge whenever there were reports of shots being fired.