In response to the 10 deadly shootings in Wilkes-Barre so far this year — and other crimes committed with troubling regularity in area neighborhoods — will you fret and hunker down behind locked doors? Or will you get involved, promoting sensible solutions for the good of the entire community?
Let’s hope you and enough like-minded residents lean toward the second option, working together to ensure the places we play, worship, work, study and sleep remain reasonably safe. No one can be immune from crime. But, by studying what crime-fighting tactics work elsewhere and employing smart strategies, you can improve security for yourself and quite possibly the streets around you.
For starters, do you take basic precautions such as turning on porch lights at night? Do the exterior doors to your home or apartment have deadbolt locks? Do you keep your vehicle secure, not using it as a place to store valuables?
Do you know your neighbors? Do you report suspicious activity to the police?
Do you participate in a group such as the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition? Have you scanned the National Crime Prevention Council’s web page, at www.ncpc.org/topics, on which it provides tips on many daily-living matters: school safety to cellphones, identity theft to violent crime?
While such methods might draw guffaws from people whose mentality is more of the bunker-building, gun-amassing type, those of you who follow the suggestions can discourage would-be crooks and create a stronger social network. And the majority of these tips don’t require big expenditures of money, only adaptations in behavior.
Keeping a lid on violent crime will require more. More time. And, yes, more money.
Cities and states have yet to fully solve the riddle of how to reduce gunplay, disband gangs and limit bloodshed. But plenty of people have been pursuing answers, occasionally recording successes, and you can be an advocate of those efforts. Encourage the area’s civic leaders and police to go beyond the first and obvious step — putting more officers on patrol — and to adopt emerging anti-violence techniques, even develop new ones.
In a recent article for The Atlantic titled “How to Stop Violent Crime Without Stop and Frisk,” writer Conor Friedersdorf pitches potential crime-lowering tactics such as boosting monetary rewards for tips about illegal guns, making infrastructure improvements to cities and speeding the rate at which offenders are penalized. He also draws attention to Kevin Drum’s piece in Mother Jones about a possible link between lead abatement and falling crime rates.
A Massachusetts city, meanwhile, has drawn national attention by using anti-insurgency tactics like those the U.S. military refined in Iraq and Afghanistan to control street crime.
But to bring peace to your Northeastern Pennsylvania neighborhood, wouldn’t you prefer to rely on ingenuity and genuine cures than to lock yourself behind barred windows and gated walls?