Bob Hurt's Crime Editorialfor Wed, 11 April 2012
Two news articles piqued my interest because of what they could mean to Americans' quality of life.
1. The first deals with New York cops' job dissatisfaction over pressure to reduce crime. It could mean cops will lock up innocent people to make the numbers look good.
2. The second deals with Cincinnati's different crime suppression program, one that works. Kansas City wants to adopt it. It could put perp's associates under a microscope just for associating with them.
I don't like the New York program even though it seems to reduce crime because it tends to make cops angry of the numbers pressure, and that catches innocents in their crossfire, so to speak. It makes more sense to let suspected criminals go in light of their possible innocence because most criminals keep committing crimes till they get caught and locked away. Cops should do their best never to shoot or persecute the innocent.
I do like the Cincinnati program because it focuses on the real problem - among youths and gangs, peer approval or respect for toughness pressures otherwise borderline criminals to cross that border into hard crime. Because of intense police scrutiny, the friends, family, and associates of criminals will pressure each other not to commit the crimes, lest they, albeit innocent themselves, become targets for the police.
Cops have one main job: prevent injustice. They use two main techniques: physical presence; and apprehension of law breakers. Their bosses use statistics to see how well they do their jobs. Judging from the many stories of people innocently jailed and convicted, I guess cops' bosses don't penalize cops much for jailing the innocent.
But, let's face it, a gang member who does not discourage a fellow from committing a crime thereby encourages the crime, just by physical presence. And having knowledge of it without reporting it, well, that's a crime too. So all the gang members who have knowledge of crimes by fellows have themselves become criminals. And cops ought to scrutinize and haul them in for questioning, check their pockets and knapsacks for drugs and stolen loot. That goes for family members, too, particularly parents who see actual or signaled misbehavior like drug use/dealing, skipping school, dressing or acting like a thug, and unusual items in the child's possession.
Black teen Trayvon Martin, whom Mestizo adult and neighborhood watcher George Zimmerman killed in self-defense on 26 February 2012, would constitute a good example. Had the father Tracy done his job, he would have looked into Trayvon's possessions and found the jewelry Trayvon had stolen and the remnants of Trayvon's weed. He would have taken away Trayvon's "hoodie," the kind Florida youths wear to conceal their identities in violation of Statute 876.12. Florida's legislature enacted that law in 1951 against the Ku Klux Klan, but cops seem loathe to enforce it. Tracy would have bought Trayvon properly fitting clothing instead of the baggy shirt and pants that give youths that unfortunately popular "jailbird" look. He would have taught Trayvon not to dress and act like a thug, and not to take shortcuts through gated communities to houses the father and son visited. He would have taught Trayvon to speak with respect and dignity to non-threatening adult male strangers instead of assaulting and battering them. And Trayvon Martin might still live today because he would not have arroused George Zimmerman's suspicion in the first place.
According to the Cincinnati method, police should now zero-in on Trayvon's family and chums because they associated with a dangerous thief and street thug - Trayvon Martin. And of course, their negligence might have turned Trayvon into a criminal as it typically does with wayward youths.
If cops across America started turning up the heat on the associates and family members of gang members, street thugs, juvenile delinquents, and criminals of all sorts, they could create a new peer pressure. Peers would pressure associates and family members to BEHAVE like GOOD CITIZENS rather than as criminals. Parents would do a better, more responsible job of parenting. And we would live in a better, safer America.
Criminals would ultimately realize that whom they know could become whom they blow, so to speak... in prison.
Lest my Libertarian readers think I have lost my mind to suggest such privacy-invading scrutiny which actually does suppress crime, I shall explain Every state has a law criminalizing accessory-after-the-fact behavior: complicity in the crime by virtue of not stopping it or reporting it. See Florida Statute 777.03 and 18 USC 4 (misprision of felony) for examples. People who don't report felonious behavior of friends and relatives thereby become a party to it. That gives cops have the right to scrutinize them, document their activities, and haul them in for questioning. Most will tire of sitting under the cops' "microscope" and dissuade the felonious behavior of family and friends.
This does not constitute a mere theory. Kansas City wants to do it because it has dramatically reduced crime in Cincinnati and elsewhere. See the below news summaries.
|Why Morale is Sinking in New York City's Police Department |
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The collective New York Police Department mood is surprisingly dark, reports New York magazine. The complaints aren't about the old standby, low pay; they're about the systems the department uses to bring down crime-systems fueling a bitterness that can interfere with the department's ability to keep the city safe. Disaffection from the public and anger at the department aren't universal, but they are widespread, stretching across boroughs and ranks. Cops say the acrimony is a by-product of the numbers-obsessed systems that Commissioner Raymond Kelly has perfected. Kelly inherited CompStat, the marriage of computer-analyzed crime stats and grilling of field commanders. CompStat has filtered through every facet of the department, and making a good show at those meetings has become an obsession.
"The job is getting smaller all the time-more demands, less autonomy, less respect," a recently retired Bronx detective says. "The aggressive management culture has been really effective, but it's also extremely aggravating." Increasing the strain is the mandate to keep crime at historic lows while the department shrinks: There are 6,000 fewer cops than in 2001, owing to budget cuts. "Ninety percent of the stress on our job is internal," a twenty-year veteran says. "Crime is down as much as you can get it, you're doing as much as you can with fewer people, and if you ask for more, what you're going to get is corruption, people fudging numbers, locking people up just to do it. And that's where the city is now. Everybody's attention is so focused on the numbers nobody cares about each other. You can't. The human element is gone. It's why so many cops are so miserable."
KC May Adopt Cincinnati's "Focused Deterrence" Anticrime Strategy
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A sliver of Kansas City's population is responsible for the majority of shootings and homicides, police officials say. That sliver of people - and all of their friends - could start getting a heap of law enforcement attention if police and prosecutors adopt a new violence reduction plan from Cincinnati, reports the Kansas City Star. "We're looking for a sustainable program that we can do for the long haul," said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. The Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence - or CIRV - aims enforcement at the city's worst offenders by focusing on their entire social groups, whether they be gangs or neighborhood cliques. If one member commits a violent crime, police put everyone in the group under a microscope.
Kansas City Star
Conclusion and Lesson
Any who wonder at the effectiveness of the method should watch a rerun of Full Metal Jacket. Note the Drill Sergeant's treatment of everyone in the barracks for the irresponsible behavior of Private Pile. Note the ultimate reaction of his fellow recruits to Pile's continued misbehavior. On the last day of training Pile murdered the Sergeant and then committed suicide. The following mandate for all humans pretty well sums it up: