Crime is the base problem for a number of poor urban areas. Wherever you have high crime, you have trouble attracting employers. And without employment options, you end up with poverty, a low tax base to support schools, hopelessness, drug dealing, and the rest. So I thought I would share some ideas for reducing urban crime. The first idea comes from Black Lives Matters out of New York. I can’t judge this sort of idea from my suburban home in California, but I share it with you because it belongs in the conversation. There is a small experiment going on in part of Harlem that has drastically reduced violent gun crime. Police say the big difference is the number of illegal guns they took out of the neighborhoods in question, but they also credit a group called Street Corner Resources with “. . . a mix of adult education courses, connections to legal and housing help and free job placement programs that would result in positions that could pay $40 to $50 a day more than selling drugs.”
I think it’s always fair to be skeptical of success claims. But I like any plan that can be tested small and evaluated. This example fits that model perfectly. Ideally, we should have a dozen different programs running in different neighborhoods around the country to see which ones work best.
I’d also like to see a system in which senior citizens within a dangerous neighborhood can watch security camera videos of all public spaces in their general area and report suspicious activity to police. Perhaps they can be paid for this service. You’d need a system that piped the videos directly to residential TV sets or mobile devices and randomized the camera views so the criminals never know which residents are watching which blocks. That keeps the watchers safe.
I would also expect more police and security drones coming into use to get closer looks at crime in progress, and to follow perps back to their hiding places. Imagine a senior citizen viewing a crime on a security cam and alerting police who send up the closest drone from a secure rooftop nearby to get a better look. That should drive most crime indoors, at the very least.
I’m sure there are lots of other ideas for reducing crime. I’d like to see the government do a better job of shining a light on various local crime-fighting experiments so everyone knows the options and we can pick the winners as they are identified. Wouldn’t you like to see regular reports on the news about crime-fighting experiments that are working well?
Update: Baltimore is using aerial surveillance to fight crime. See article.