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|Monterey County, CA||November 7, 2006 Election|
By Dennis DonohueCandidate for Mayor; City of Salinas
This information is provided by the candidate
An Integrated Approach, Based On Proven Best PracticesI have a comprehensive plan to reduce crime throughout Salinas. It's a plan that brings together the elements that have been shown to work by the most successful police departments in America, including:
As with most hard problems, crime won't be solved by simplistic solutions or empty slogans. It will be solved by putting together the kind of multi-dimensional plan that's been proven to work in other cities.
The first step is to make sure our police have what they need to do their work. Currently the Salinas Police Department has 20 unfilled police positions, an overcrowded headquarters, and uncompetitive police pay scales. Our force is excellent but overextended. And because of the combination of tough working conditions and relatively low pay, we end up training officers for other forces, because our officers tend to leave after only a few years of service here.
So we need to start by recognizing the need to invest in upgrading our basic law enforcement capability. Cutting corners on policing is a false economy: we end up paying much more than we save, in the direct costs of crime and the indirect costs to our quality of life and to economic growth--community safety is a prerequisite to investment.
One of the most successful techniques from other cities is the "broken window" strategy. This strategy, which is based on thinking put forth in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly article by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson, and which New York City used to turn around its crime problem in the 1990s. The strategy calls for cleaning up neglected environments--since disorder in the environment appears to lead to more criminal behavior--and enforcing laws covering relatively minor infractions, on the theory that people who commit minor crimes are also likely to commit more serious ones.
Our police know about the "broken window" strategy. They know that pulling over a car full of young men for not wearing seatbelts can net gangbangers with outstanding warrants. But with too few resources, our police are too often forced into tactical, not strategic, implementation. Our police need more staff and better support to make the strategy truly strategic.
This approach to law enforcement is often oversimplified as "getting tough on crime". That phrase misses the multidimensional nature of the strategy, and overlooks the key point that the idea is not so much to be "tough" as to be scientific--to do the things that have been shown to work.
In any case, enforcement alone, no matter how thorough, is not enough to make crime go away, as the police will be the first to tell us. That's because the crime we see is not the whole problem; the crime we see is just the last link in a chain of problems. Successful anti-crime programs attack crime at its roots, and from multiple directions. Such programs are not only about enforcement after a crime has been committed. They are also about prevention and intervention before the crime has been committed.
There are several approaches that work successfully to prevent crimes from being committed in the first place. One of the most important is the involvement of members of the community, working as partners with the police: community policing.
When patrol officers spend much of their time in cars, fewer officers can cover larger areas, but their connection with the community is diminished. That means police lose the dramatic "force multiplier" effect of hundreds of pairs of friendly eyes and ears. Community policing recognizes that there was value in the old beat-walking model of policing, value that 20th Century police departments partly lost in the search for efficiency through the use of technology such as cars and radios. In the 21st Century, community policing is contributing to a nationwide decline in crime--a decline we can enjoy here in Salinas as well.
Salinas' police already know about the value of community policing; our department is up to date on all modern law enforcement thinking. But in order to make community policing work as well as it can, we need to have enough officers, and we need to be able to retain those officers. This is an area where the city as a whole needs to unite and make a necessary and valuable public investment.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
When an environment is neglected--when there are too many broken windows--average citizens feel endangered and retreat into their houses and apartments. That means they take their eyes off the street, which enables even more crime to be committed, leading to a cycle of neighborhood decline.
This leads us to the prevention component of the broken windows strategy, an approach sometimes known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPETD addresses all the problems in an environment that can lead to increases in crime, and enlists community partners in working to solve those problems. This can include graffiti paint-outs, removal of abandoned vehicles, lighting improvements, litter pick-ups, and neighborhood watch programs. According to a report by the US Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice:
...these problem-solving efforts help reduce the fear of crime and increase a community's sense of control... Experience in such programs has shown that such joint activities, which build trust and cooperation between police and neighborhood residents, form the foundation for further partner-ships to promote problem solving and increase residents' control of their neighborhoods.
Position Paper 2
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