Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chicago applys common sense: increased police presence decreases homicides

Every city has crime hot zones, and every hot zone is hot for different reasons. But I suggest that increased police presence in these hot zones decreases crime within irrespective of the primary crime. The age old excuse is cost. But incomprehensible is the use of that excuse when the hot zone is one of homicides. Politicians while decrying the cost still seems to find the money for personal projects that are most often outside of the needs or desires of the community.

In Chicago homicides drop dramatically as police target 'hot zones.' "Chicago has been struggling with a rising homicide rate but February saw a drop to levels not seen in more than 50 years. A new police strategy might be helping, but it might not be sustainable." 

But the moans and groans - it isn't sustainable because of the cost. "Police officials credit a new plan in which 200 officers are paid overtime and dispatched for nightly patrols to 10 “hot zones” on the South and West Sides of the city where street violence is most prevalent." 

But never mind that the strategy is successful: "Since launching the new initiative, there have been zero homicides in those areas, says Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy." I don't know, but I suspect that the citizens of Chicago, or any city, would rather have zero homicides in a city that had 500 homicides last year even at the cost.

It seems clear too that the plan paying 200 officers overtime is not one that needs to be continually exercised. And the goal doesn't have to be zero homicides either. Paying overtime is far less costly than hiring more officers. And, the beauty of overtime is that with success comes a decrease in the number of overtime officers.

Of course there is a monetary limit on fighting crime, but it seems that cost should not be the decisional factor in those areas where homicide and even drugs sales dominate. Health and safety is a city's first priority - not bike lanes or urban renewal.

A safe city pays for itself.

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