Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Crime down, doomsayers disappointed

Good news for people like me who keep insisting crime in Fitchburg isn't as bad as people make it out to be. It actually isn't!

Or at least it's not as bad as it was in 2005, according to this article in the Fitchburg Pride about the Fitchburg Police Department's 2006 report.
According to the Fitchburg Police Department's 2006 annual report, overall crime in the city dropped 15 percent from 2005, especially in areas of drug incidents, breaking and entering, rapes and assaults.
Unfortunately, the most recent report on the FPD website is from 2004. It would be nice for them to put out some recent figures to the public, since people (particularly candidates) have been harping on how terrible crime is despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

So why's crime down? That of course is going to depend on who you ask. But Chief Edward Cronin had something to say that more public figures should listen to:
Cronin said the department has been focusing on more than just suppression, acknowledging through programs, reinforcement and advocacy that crime is a much larger issue affected by outside factors such as economics and race.

"We've generated a big picture way of looking at the problems," Cronin said. "You can't keep hitting things in one way, you can't keep arresting people and ignore the outside factors that have contributed to the crime, and minority status and poverty are right on top."
Holy crap! Address the roots of crime instead of just blindly focusing on enforcement and things actually improve!

He goes on:
He says the department's approaches are about empowering others.

"It's not about things like language, but the affirmation of who someone is when they walk in here and about serving the community honestly and with humility because in my mind, that's what leadership means," he said.

"I'm not saying we don't have problems," he continued, "But we're making progress without having to use thug policing. I have always said that our community is not our enemy."
Indeed it's not.

One of the big problems with things like the "Liberty Walk" is that they treat the community as the enemy. Almost explicitly in that case, since the idea was to get a bunch of people who didn't live in the "bad" neighborhood to walk through that neighborhood, essentially belittling the people who do live there. It's no wonder they were met with scorn by the residents. They were treating that entire community as an enemy, one they could apparently only face with an army of like-minded walkers with them.

Ted DeSalvatore's vigilantism does the same thing. As I quoted in an earlier post:
DeSalvatore admits he regularly walks through neighborhoods in his ward which have a reputation for drugs and violence, often taking videotape and calling the police if he spots illegal activity.
DeSalvatore also acknowledges that certain people often ask him to leave, which he refuses to do.
He says that on one recent occasion, he told a confrontational young man on Elm Street, "I'm going to be back here every day just for you."
Clearly, to some of our mayoral candidates, the community is the enemy.

Glad to see Chief Cronin has the right attitude.

Incidentally, don't expect people to drop the spurious "crime is out of control!" claims. They've never been based on facts anyway, so more recent facts aren't going to change anything.