Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting it right - Journalism that works

Cover page of Team 4's exceptional SafeGrowth Plan from the Milwaukee training
Trashing media crime reporting is my past-time of late. I've complained how difficult it is to find articles that resist racing to the bottom of the sensationalism pool. One exception from an earlier blog: Joe Schleshinger's writing on the decline of violence.

As if on cue (and dishing me up a welcome plate of humble pie), I've just received two more examples of great journalism - a news article by reporter Ashley Luthern and an opinion piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel following our SafeGrowth LISC - CSI training.

The opinion piece titled "Hiring 100 more police officers will help, but more is needed" concludes, "hiring 100 more police officers in Milwaukee won't by itself curb crime…[they] have to be part of a smart strategy…"

Exactly right!

Suppressing any self-respecting humility, I admit my favorite part is the final paragraph:

"The SafeGrowth Initiative, aimed at creating neighborhood solutions to crime, can help, too. Sponsored by the Milwaukee branch of the Local Initiatives Support Group, SafeGrowth participants have come up with ideas for fighting crime in such places as a residential block, a parking lot frequented by drug dealers and a commercial corridor with a rarely used park and a troublesome tavern. One proposal was to create a better way for police to work with taverns during the design and permitting process to create a safer environment."

Could not have said it better!

Even more important is their suggestion for moving forward.

Milwaukee SafeGrowth team 4 asset map

A prevention strategy in 4 parts

The Journal Sentinal opinion piece suggested 4 strategies for prevention:

1. Deploy cops strategically
2. Neighborhood activation
3. Municipal and grass-roots leadership

That 3rd one is key. In fact (DISCLAIMER: humility suppression alert) teaching city executives how to activate grass-roots leadership is exactly why we developed our new program - Citizen Cities.

The only slip I see is their 4th strategy: "Bring in more help from the state".

True, government has an important role. Funds may be useful to purchase new (and proven) technologies and that can help. But new technologies and tactics hack at the branches, they don't dig at the roots. Plus, government funds come with strings, politics, and snags. Not to mention the risk of funding-addiction - when the money dries up, as it often does, so does the program.

Much better to work with governments, launch an initiative with a police/community angle and then use a portion of those funds to help local groups organize their own independent funding.

Aside from that, the article and the opinion piece are journalistic gems. Best humble pie I've tasted in ages. To Ashley and the Journal Sentinel…well done!

2 Replies so far - Add your comment

  1. good to see this moving forward. Now if we can only figure out Detroit...

  2. Agreed, Tod.

    Check out Brandon's latest comments on the Detroit blog. He describes some positive forward movement there.


Please add comments to SafeGrowth. I will post everyone except posts with abusive, off-topic, or offensive language; any discriminatory, racist, sexist or homophopic slurs; thread spamming; or ad hominem attacks.

If your comment does not appear in a day due to blogspot problems send it to and I'll post direct.