Calgary now has a gang problem. Violence and murders are up, and trending higher. The city wants to throw $25 million at the problem, primarily through hiring 201 more police.
"It's a predictable response -- you go after the problem in the same way as before, at a higher intensity, and it doesn't work," said David M. Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
"Generally, upping law enforcement resources makes no dent at all."
From my own experience, I would say that he's right. But having more police on the street does help quell violence but, what the expert doesn't mention is that the problem with throwing money at the gang problem won't help because the weak link in the chain is the courts.
The other day I ran a rap sheet on a 22 year old gang member. He's been arrested 56 times (54 misdemeanor, 2 felonies). He had ZERO convictions.
This is not an isolated incident. Most police know that the lag in addressing gang and drug problems lay squarely with the courts. The judges and States Attorneys don't prosecute misdemeanor cases anymore. It's all about the noelle prosequi. The thugs know that if they get caught with some weed, or drinking on the public way, or even flashing their asinine gang signs, the worst that will happen is that they'll be inconvenienced for a few hours. Big deal. They know from their experience that they can go to court and have their case dismissed before even making it through the little swinging door. That sends a message that there are no consequences to their actions.
So when police sweep in and start arresting gang-members, the shitheads know that they'll be out on an I-bond in a couple hours; and that the "case" they just caught won't ever go anywhere except out the door.
Again, from the Calgary Sun's article:
|Kennedy says Calgary's gang- and drug-related violence -- tentatively linked to four deaths in the past month -- is "significant," and he says most cities naively fumble with the more-police approach at first."But it doesn't matter how hard you jump on them -- tougher policing makes no impact at all".What works, says Kennedy, is an approach that targets the gang as a whole, not the individual members.It's a radical strategy that's working wonders in cities like San Francisco and Cincinnati -- and Kennedy says it will work in Calgary, too, if city officials are ready to try a new approach.First, city council and police officials must acknowledge that Calgary will never eradicate gangs.And then -- and here's the really hard part -- an open discussion with gang members is required."You don't negotiate or cut deals, but it requires a direct relationship with the gangs," he said.Once a dialogue is established, police must lay down the law about violence and murder, says Kennedy."The police must say, our promise to the next group to do this, we will punish every single member with every legal tool at our disposal -- we're giving you prior notice, so you know what will happen," said Kennedy.It means a single gun fired by a lone gang member will see his comrades rounded up and charged for everything from driving violations to drug infractions to missed child support."When somebody hurts somebody else, the police go after everybody in the gang -- after a while, the group starts policing itself," said Kennedy.The threat forces a gang to keep a low, non-violent profile or risk ruin at the hands of a police force who won't lay off on the arrests and charges.Kennedy, who advocates assistance for gang members from social services and community leaders, says cities using his strategy have seen violence drop between 50% and 75% within a few months.|
I don't agree with Kennedy when he says that more police equates with no impact on gang-member's actions. More police on the street will quell violence because if they're aggressive officers, they'll be making arrests for any observed infractions. Back to my point, getting the offenders off the streets for a time will help because they'll be in jail and not on the corner.
I imagine that this policy of Kennedy's is what we on the Chicago Police department call "Operation Just Cause". That is when a gang-member does something criminal, then the operation is called for a Zero Tolerance on ALL crimes committed by members of that gang.
A better long term solution would be to build more prisons and enforce the laws that are already on our books. Can you imagine what would happen to petty crime if "Pooky" knew that if he got caught throwing dice again he'd be looking at 364 days in jail and a fine of $1,000?
Another tactic that I favor is to cutoff public aid from people who are arrested and convicted of anything higher than a class A misdemeanor. Take away their money and they'll start acting like civilized people.
Personally I don't see Chicago seriously addressing its gang problems. The courts have taken away many of the polices' powers in pro actively engaging gang-members. We cannot sign Disorderly Conduct complaints, Reckless Conduct complaints and even drinking in the public way is getting scrutiny from the higher ups.
As our society gets more and more tolerant of crime, the courts are doing less and less enforcement.
But everyone continues to blame the police - thanks to the Media bias that continues to coddle every offender and their criminal history.