ROOTS OF CRIME
When we talk about public safety, we are primarily talking about crime prevention and punishment. There are no easy answers or simple solutions, and unfortunately there is always going to be a criminal element in our communities. Public safety is the primary function of municipal, county, and state officials. If citizens do not feel safe in their homes, their schools, churches, out and about in their communities, or while traveling, it is impossible to have a thriving and productive community. Prevention, interdiction, enforcement, incarceration and reformation are all facets of effectively addressing crime.
Prevention is the surest means of reducing crime. Prevention starts at the individual level, it starts in the home and continues out into the community. It’s an unfortunate reality that the seed of an alarming amount of crime is addiction and mental illness that must be recognized and addressed as early as possible. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) half of all mental illnesses emerge by the age of 14. If not addressed, this usually leads to school suspensions, drop-outs, and incarceration. Untreated mental illness often leads to a dual disorder of chemical abuse and addiction. This is not to say that the mentally ill and addicted are criminals, but more often than not, it’s the root of criminal behavior and acts. My door will always be open to mental health and addiction recovery community organizations.
Interdiction is critical to reducing criminal activity. From illicit drugs to human trafficking, counterfeiting, organized crime, and more, interdiction is essential. Cutting off the resources that fuel a variety of criminal activities requires coordination between local, county, state and federal agencies. I will listen to the needs of these agencies and do what I can to support their efforts at every level.
When prevention and interdiction are not possible, enforcement is required. Enforcement — law and order — are critical to a functioning civil society. But enforcement is only possible with a strong, well trained police force. From petty crimes to the most heinous of felonies, a community is chiseled away until only rubble remains. I am not being hyperbolic. For years my neighbors and I have seen a rise in property crimes, drug crimes, violent crimes, and earlier this year a large portion of our community was literally turned into a burnt out pile of rubble. Including our police precinct headquarters. Calls for defunding the police have led to increased robberies, assaults and carjackings and more. This is not acceptable, the perpetrators need to be arrested, prosecuted and (if found guilty) incarcerated.
Incarceration needs to be on the table for crimes large and small. On the table, but fitting to the crime. Our criminal justice system may need reform, and I believe it does, but it also needs to be robust and functional. In many cases STS (Sentenced To Serve) is adequate. Sometimes, time in a treatment facility is appropriate. Often, incarceration in a county or state facility is the only appropriate response. Yes, we need to reform the criminal justice system, but opening the doors and emptying the jails and prisons is not the reform we need. We need efficiencies in the system, not abolishment of the system.
One of the reforms we need, is to recognize that the formerly incarcerated need to be effectively reintroduced into society. To work with community organizations, faith-based organizations, and private organizations to reintroduce these individuals into society and ensure that they can become stable, contributing members of their communities.