I noted in my opening post that I have changed. In some sense, this blog is about explaining the experiences, thoughts, and feelings that have brought on these changes. The timeline is one such anecdote. Let me know what you think!
Gang violence is the primary issue in the city I police. Most of America’s large cities have a similar story. Last week in Chicago, a fifteen-year-old had his life cut short as he was charged as an adult in a tragic murder. Read the sad details here. New York is in the same boat, and so are Detroit, Dallas, and many others. Everyone always has a solution “of the week,” with politicians talking a lot, and doing a bit less. As this article shows, the Governator thinks another czar might help.
When the gang problem in a city flares, usually on the heels of an incident like the Chicago story above, or this one in Los Angeles, the police department gets thrown in the mix in two ways: First, they are roundly criticized for not doing enough to quell violence. Then, within a few days, the experts roll out a new and improved police initiative that will crush the evil gangs, and we will all live safely ever after. In the L.A. link above, Los Angeles deployed a “crackdown.”
The problem here is that our leaders don’t know about the philosophical cop’s timeline. This little nugget, illustrated below, is how I have always seen the youth gang problem. Essentially, it attempts to graph the systems and people that fail a young man on his journey to becoming a violent gang member.
Note that for the vast majority of the future felon’s life, he has virtually no interaction with the criminal justice system. Yet, when these other systems and people fail him, it is the cops’ job to stop the violence. Well hang on one second: They took 16 years to mold and shape and let this kid down, and now — in the last 1/4 inch of a 6 inch long lifeline, we are supposed to solve the problem?
We are a band-aid, a trauma center brought in once the wound is inflicted. Yet the public, the mainstream media, and the politicians seem to focus exclusively on how the police will save us all from gangs.
Just an idea here: Why don’t we focus on the first 16 years, and try to keep the young man from ever reaching the “red zone?”
I believe I know why…
If you want to get elected, re-elected, or become powerful in America’s inner cities, you are much better off blaming the police for gang violence than pointing out how hip hop music glorifies murder and rape. You are always wiser to fund more cops than more teachers. And if you criticize some families for their poor role models and their failure to emphasize school work and a respect for others, don’t even bother putting your name on the ballot. After all, that makes you a sell out. What a shame.