Monday, March 24, 2008

Securing our cities

The Free Press has another powerful editorial in favor of a renewed urban agenda at the national level. This time the focus is on five key steps the federal government can take to reduce crime and violence in major cities:

• The next president must increase support for local law enforcement programs that work, especially to those cities that have a plan for collaborative, community-wide crime prevention programs. Such assistance should include innovative new programs, such as a national campaign to ensure all city streets are well lit.

• Second, the president ought to strengthen the federal government's commitment to prisoner re-entry programs that help hundreds of thousands of offenders adjust to their communities. In Michigan and other states, such efforts are reducing crime and recidivism. The Second Chance Act passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this month is a good start.

• Third, the next administration must make gun control legislation a priority, as virtually all big-city mayors and police chiefs have urged. At least, the president and Congress ought to renew the assault weapons ban, establish a national data base for guns and gun owners, and require background checks for gun show purchases.

• Fourth, Washington should encourage local rules that require police officers to live in the cities they serve. It could do so by making only cities with such residency rules eligible for certain grants.

• Finally, the federal government must do more to prevent crime. The good news is that, over the last 15 years, the U.S. Justice Department has started to focus on street violence, as well as white-collar and organized, crime. The best federal programs have partnered with local law enforcement agencies and community-based groups.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Ironically, light can promote as much crime as much as it deters. Criminals need light, too. Unlit places aren't defaced (unless they're an tempting target in the day). And a poorly implemented lighting program will create as many pools of dark as pools of light -- areas that are deceptively unsafe instead of obviously unsafe. cf: Kevin Lynch, Wasting Away, 1991.