Saturday, February 14, 2009

Preventing crime in LA

Check out this video. It explains the approach adopted by Bratton and mentioned by J. Q. Wilson in the previous blogs.

2007 - From the video clip: "We can talk crime prevention all day...if we're not engaged with the community, if the community is not engaged with us to point out who is doing what...there are too few of us to be in every neighborhood." Jim McDonnell, LAPD Assistant Chief. 2007

1961 - From Jane Jacobs: "The public peace of cities is ...kept primarily by an intricate, network of voluntary controls and standards among people themselves. No amount of police can enforce civilization where the normal, casual enforcement of it has broken down." Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities









3 comments:

  1. A few discursive thoughts, if I may on your posting:

    The "police" focus in community development, in my view, is both dangerous and ill conceived.

    The guardians are any society exist (from Aristotle's onward) for the sole purpose of enforcing an established status quo. These guardians (modern day police) should never be asked into the vanguard and leadership of any societal movement. Unless we expect renaissance abilities from them and we are prepared to equip our police officers with political and social philosophy training, then they should always take rear guard, supportive actions.

    Similarly, those most avaricious of creatures, the corporations, should also never be expected to take on a societal development or redevelopment role. By doing so, we ask the lion to watch the lamb.

    The current problem with community development is that we are asking the wrong people to do the right job.

    What ever McDonnell or Bratton do is, in my view, irrelevant until we have the right forum, with the appropriate thinkers to lead them. What we need and what we currently lack in North America is what is known as the 'guiding mind' for what Saville wants: fundamental social reform.

    The leadership we want won't, sadly, be coming from our famous Chicago politician. As hopeful and inspiring as Barack Obama is, he remains a creature not of reform but rather of politics and that failed infrastructure.

    Yes, he has a background in community development, but his history teaches us, (at the Harvard review and in the Senate as two examples) that he will be more of a guardian than a reformer.

    So, the question is this: who will lead this reform that we all know we need? Will it be someone like Muhammad Yunus who provides loans for Indian villagers - especially women - to engage in local commerce. I suspect so.

    Sadly, I think we require great turmoil to effect great change. Until we are collectively forced to look beyond current, ineffective ways of living together, nothing will change. Looking to guardians and the maintainers of the status quo - like police and governments - to lead that change seems hopeful, but naive.

    Perhaps this so-called global crisis will be the spark that will destroy a mean spirited, divisive economic system. Let's hope so.

    Perhaps what we suffer now will lead us to better days ahead. Any ideas on what next Greg?

    Gerry Cleveland

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  3. Thanks Gerry for that provocative response.

    Gerry writes some fascinating ideas. Is he right? Police only as rear guard supportive action? Not the vanguard or leadership? Political and social philosopy training?

    Cops are trained for the tough stuff. Rushing to crimes and catching bad guys. Investigating traffic crashes, robberies and murders. Intervening in emergencies. Not much social reform in those things. They are necessary. But they are not leadership.

    I suppose cops do more than chase, investigate, and patrol. They do the soft things too - crime prevention, school programs, drug education. Then again, those things don't really lead social reform. They may be an important, supportive rear guard action. But not much more.

    I'm with Gerry on the need for effective community development. Creating the safe places in the first place BEFORE cops go into schools...BEFORE they chase, investigate and patrol.

    That kind of community development does require a vanguard of leadership, which is what I believe SafeGrowth is all about.

    Community policing folks say cops should solve neighborhood disorder that leads to crimes in the first place? They say police should work with neighbors to tackle ongoing crime problems?

    If they are right (and I believe they are), are those activities better at the front or the rear of social change? If Gerry is right (and I believe he is) then community development needs both a vanguard of leaders and new ways to organize in neighborhoods.

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