Preventative Policing

It’s hard to please everyone, and nowhere is that axiom more true than in law enforcement. Arrest bad people before their criminal plans come to fruition, and you’re a fascist oppressor with a vendetta, violating their basic human rights. Wait until after they commit their special crime, and everyone else wants to know why you didn’t act sooner. What’s a municipality to do?

Well, you can try taking preventative action to – hopefully – deter specific incidents, like here in St Paul, where the authorities want to prevent (gang) violence at the Cinco de Mayo festival by barring entrance to leaders of the local Sur 13 gang. Problem is, by doing this kind of thing you run the risk of upsetting the bleeding hearts of the world, and a lot of the time you’re probably doing nothing more than moving or postponing the inevitable. (Will there still be antagonism between Sur 13 and 18th St? Of course. But it hopefully won’t happen during the supposedly family-friendly festivities, which I guess is what’s important.)

Up in Canada, they take a slightly different approach to things…

Authorities in Vancouver, concerned about the likelihood of drive-by shootings between rival gangs, have set up concrete barriers in the street outside potential targets’ houses.

The details aren’t really clear, but it seems to go like this: Police know the gangs who’re feuding; they know who the most likely drive-by victims are, and probably the most likely perpetrators, as well. Rather than crack down on the feuding gangs, they’ve simply made it harder for people to speed away after shooting at one another.

I guess, for the police, that fulfills the need to “be seen doing something”, but it seems kind of fatalistic, to me. Nonetheless, I think it’s a brilliant idea that needs to be implemented elsewhere, and under broader circumstances, because it could be “the” cost-effective method of curtailing socially-unacceptable criminal behaviour in residential neighborhoods.

Gang members in your city? Stick barricades in the street in front of their houses – for their own safety, obviously – and let everyone know where they live. Drive-bys aren’t the only sorts of crime these barricades could help deter – how about street-level drug dealing? You going to drive over to your dealer’s house for a baggie of blow when you have to navigate a concrete maze out front – a concrete maze that leaves the neighbors with little doubt about what business your buddy is in?

It smacks a little bit of socialist collective punishment, but maybe that’s what it takes to end the whole apathetic, “don’t see nothing, don’t hear nothing, don’t know nothing” attitude that’s so pervasive in troubled neighbourhoods. Tell the world where the bad guys are, give the people around them incentive to do something about the problem, sit back, and see what happens…

I’m sure there’s some sort of objection the ACLU and National Lawyer’s Guild would raise in this were ever implemented here, but a person can still dream, can’t they?

Published in: General, Security | on April 1st, 2009| Comments Off on Preventative Policing

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