Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

State of Tennessee public safety plan as a way forward to link #BlackLivesMatters agenda with crime dampening

One of the problems that many people ascribe to the #BlackLivesMatter agenda is a kind of "nullification" as it relates to crime ("Black Lives Matter should also take on 'black-on-black crime," Washington Post).  To an outsider, it appears as if there is a kind of preconceived notion within the movement that anything "the government" does concerning crime and public safety is anti-Black and moreover, unjustified.

While I can see why many people would have strong reason to believe that, it is in fact a stretch or overstatement.  There is no question that the current paradigm isn't working ("Police misconduct and grand juries: a separate prosecution and grand jury system is necessary" "How police departments become corrupt," and "Police officers aren't always the best placemakers").

But at the same time there is no question that there is crime and it disproportionately impacts low income communities and people of color.

I believe that communities need a strong agenda for dealing with crime while recognizing that the public safety agenda is often built on a racist foundation, and much more resources need to be put towards community improvement.

I wonder if the State of Tennessee public safety plan, A Safer Tennessee: Public Safety Action Plan, 2016-2018, is an adequate foundation for such planning.

Yes the document has all kinds of measures for getting tough on criminals, but it does offer an agenda of assistance to individuals and low income communities as well.  (Also see "Haslam unveils anti-crime plan in Memphis," Memphis Commercial-Appeal.)

Is it perfect or broad ranging enough?  Probably not.  Will more money be spent on police and prisons and the criminal justice system rather than on "community improvement"?  In all likelihood yes.

But at the same time the document recognizes the need to focus on crime, individuals and communities in a more nuanced and positive way, and to invest in reducing recidivism beyond longer prison terms.

Note that in a comment on a blog entry on a "strategic plan" for the Seattle Police Department, charlie pointed out that the plan I lauded didn't say a lot about reducing crime.

This article "A most violent year: What the left and right got wrong about crime in 2015," by Thomas Abt for the Marshall Project cites the July 2015 special issue of the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency on "broken windows."  The major finding in the article "Can Policing Disorder Reduce Crime? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis" is that:
The strongest program effect sizes were generated by community and problem-solving interventions designed to change social and physical disorder conditions at particular places. Conversely, aggressive order maintenance strategies that target individual disorderly behaviors do not generate significant crime reductions.
That's in keeping with what I wrote about in "Los Angeles police department "Community Safety Partnership."

When people criticize "broken windows" approaches, they are criticizing something different from what I think of as "broken windows." They are criticizing "aggressive order maintenance strategies," not community-embedded approaches to reducing crime.

-- "Fixing Broken Windows," George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson, The Atlantic Magazine, March 1982

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At 10:26 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Interesting -- the DC lead in water was around 1999 to 2003.

We just dealing with that generation of kids turning 16 to 18. Very toxic.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

maybe it had an effect. I just don't remember the extent of the problem and why it happened. It's been awhile.,_D.C._drinking_water

I don't think it was as widespread as in Flint.

"Funny story" though. Gary Imhoff who did DCWatch, one of the earliest e-newsletters on better govt. mentioned the lead and water issue in terms of trust in govt. He said when Marion Barry went on tv and drank the water and said it was fine, then everyone went to the supermarket and bought water, because they figured anything he said was a lie--supermarkets ran out of water.

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Pretty widespread, in particular older housing.

DC Water doesn't want to touch the issue now.

I don't see this as a partisan issue (See Flint) but a breakdown in governmental function -- I'd guess 95% of water systems are publicly owned in the US?

RE: Trust -- yep, and the guy who cited is quite correct -- the spikes in crimes (homicide/gun) is where police-populace trust is very low.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

wrt "trust," that's exactly what the Abt article says. He uses the term:

"legal cynicism".

But you probably already know the term.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

wrt the water, the problem then was the use of a chemical that was believed to have the same effect as previously used chemicals in terms of reducing corrosion but it didn't.

So use of the chemical fostered corrosion, hence the problems with lead.

Now they don't use that chemical. But yes, there was coverup both by WASA and EPA.

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

legal cynicism -- no new term to me. Unless you mean that summer after law school where I realized hadn't used the word "justice" in 3 years? I kid.

RE: lead. Seems as if the basic framework for testing is very flawed. Was reading about BSE "mad cow" in the US also very disturbing -- since 2006 basically stopped testing for it. May be endemic in the US.

If only Obama could have gotten his head around the linkage between trust and performance....

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as far as DC is concerned- the threats to public safety here seem to center on hoods roaming the metro - teenage gangs who rough up random victims. Why no real concerted effort to contain this problem hasn't been started is beyond reason. Its not hard to spot- you see these kids screaming and carrying on every day when they are let out of the school cages . People from more civilized lands must shrink in horror at these monsters. For me- I don't really care too much about Tennessee because I see this crap going on all of the time all around me right here in DC. Many people I know now no longer take metro because of this mayhem and disorder.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

the term wilding lost its legitimacy in the miscarriage of justice with kids in Central Park being falsely found guilty of a rape.

But yes, there are many wilding incidents here. I've been meaning to write a post suggesting that WMATA hire more transit police.

I've witnessed a couple incidents, seen photo documentation of another, involving WMATA assets.

I was coming back on a blue line train from Largo in August I think. The train had to offload for some reason. Separately, there was an ongoing incident on the platform, but I couldn't get close enough to see what was happening. It was so loud it was like being at a rock concert. They were contained.

A couple years ago also in the summer I saw something at Eastern Market Metro Plaza, outside, where a bunch of kids were detained, very vituperative. Some of the bystanders were pissed "they're kids... etc." But frankly they were out of control and the police were doing the right thing.

Then there was the takeover of a B2 bus at the Starburst intersection on Bladensburg Rd. NE. That was documented in photos.

I'm glad they're arresting people but there needs to be more monitoring of trains, and probably more transit police. cf. Bratton and NYC Transit.

the point about TN is that they have a plan, a document. We have some proposed "crime bills" -- legislation -- but they don't seem to be "evidence-based."

That's why what the State of Tennessee is doing impresses me.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

speaking of Michigan, I could be f*ed up because of chemical contamination of milk, as a flame retardant was used by dairy farmers in the belief it could fatten up cows and increase dairy output:

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shit I worry more about all of the above ground nuke tests they were doing back when our moms had us in the womb and we were little tots- around 1961- when I was born- the most above ground nuke tests in history took place- it was equivalent to a medium sized nuclear war- and yet no one seemed to mind or to even particularly care until they tested some in orbit and screwed with the Van Allen Belts and made it unsafe for spacecraft. Now they are basically prohibited by treaty from this sort of insanity. That crap is probably more insidious and widespread than any small time lead in the pipes deal ever was.


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