With that solution off the table, the Council on Criminal Justice released earlier this year a report on tangible actions that could reduce violence now, all of them aimed at local officials. A central tactic involves identifying the small subset of residents and places that drive the bulk of violence, a pattern that occurs across cities. Officials can then target those areas with police resources, outreach workers, city programs and community partnerships.
“The strongest evidence deals with focusing on concentrations,” Mr. Stephens said, including crime that victimizes a small concentration of people. “What you’re trying to do is to tailor your response to your understanding of what’s contributing to the problem.”
That might mean changing traffic patterns on specific streets, or offering behavioral therapy programs to particular residents. That level of specificity isn’t something you would expect a senator of governor to know much about: this intersection, this family, this apartment with unsecured doors.
Local officials, on the other hand, oversee many of the levers voters may not think of as part of crime policy — whether that’s street lighting, public schools, summer jobs programs, recreation departments or housing programs. And they wield the most influence over other kinds of disorder, like uncleared trash, graffiti and vacant properties, that may shape the sense of unease voters connect to their fears of crime.
Those other tools are “extremely important,” said Art Acevedo, a former chief of police in Houston, Austin and Miami. He offered as an example pre-K education, citing the greater likelihood that students who eventually drop out of school will go to prison.
Mr. Acevedo lamented national politicians who parachute into communities after mass shootings, offer prayers and no legislation, while local police and elected officials face those families and manage everyday violence.
“When it comes to actually being closest to it, and actually focusing on good policy — rather than good politics — it’s those local officials,” he said.
Source: NY Times