Friday, July 20, 2007

Crime: Some Inside Information

From time to time--usually every full moon or so--AP's predictions and suspicions are validated by fact. Such seems to be the case here, regarding crime, police, and the mayor's stance on how to use the latter to reduce the former.

Let's talk to someone who would know, vis-a-vis a monologue commentary on my part and a letter to The Capital from an insider:

In a guest column, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer used the ratio of police officers to every 1,000 residents as a measure of how well the Annapolis police department is staffed.

You know, I bet that using ratios such as officers per thousand is a poor staffing guideline. Annapolis, for example, has a high non-resident population--especially when the state legislature is in session--and probably requires special consideration.

However, a recent study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police states that "ratios, such as officers-per-thousand population, are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions." Rather, the unique characteristics of each jurisdiction should be considered.

I was just thinking the same thing!

Even Annapolis police officers are asking the city for a commitment to full staffing and state that the city is not fulfilling its responsibility to make our city safe.

For goodness sake, funded positions in the department have gone vacant in the city for years. AP has argued, and will continue to argue, that enforcement of the laws that already exist is lacking and should be the overwhelming crime-reduction-prevention priority. In most cases we do not need new laws; WE NEED TO CREATE CONSISTENTLY STRONG DISINCENTIVES FOR PEOPLE WHO COMMIT CRIMES. THIS MEANS PUNISHING THEM HARD WHEN THEY BREAK THE LAW.

The mayor seemed to imply that Officer Friendly walking a regular beat is a "police state". Nothing is further from the truth.

My instinct is telling me, probably as a result of my extensive listening of the Ed Norris show, that community policing and beat walking are important parts of crime fighting and have been successful.

She should read a publication by the Department of Justice "Community Policing for Mayors," for an understanding of the advantages of community policing, which is about mutual trust and problem-solving.

And there we are. I got a bit of a chuckle reading this, as I imagined something like the "XXX for Dummies" series of books, complete with a pretty picture of the market house air conditioner.

The mayor claimed that her administration "asked the housing Authority to hire a public safety director" and so forth. As the author of the report that made these recommendations, I know that these suggestions did not come from her administration, but rather from myself, other citizens and the authority itself.

This is typical quote from the mayor, straight from the "I tried to fix the problem and there is nothing I can do about it" family of rhetoric. This quote comes with a tasty side of non-truthfulness, with just a hint of brashness. Two and a half stars.

The mayor claimed that the city "has never received a report on the public safety program."

I do not believe this for one second. In all her time as mayor and alderman, she has NEVER seen a report on the Housing Authority's public safety program? Please. Anyway, if she really didn't see a report, it would be her fault. ATTENTION MAYOR MOYER: YOU ARE THE MAYOR, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ASSESS PROBLEMS AND FIND SOLUTIONS! YOU CAN MAKE THEM GIVE YOU A REPORT! But I'm sticking with the theory that she has seen a report, and conveniently forgot.

Does she not remember last October's meeting with the chief, myself, and the authority, at which the safety program's funding and status were presented? Does she not read the monthly reports that come to her?

The reports were probably buried under a Rochefort, France paperweight and an original copy of Great Expectations.

And what happens when well-intentioned citizens suggest some best-practice solutions? They are dismissed as "garbage" and "craziness".

This is super-classic, five diamond rated Moyer rhetoric. It is a marriage of the "you can't possibly know what you are talking about" and "this is not our problem" families of quotes. Click here for another recent example of this.

Do citizens feel safer today than they did six years ago?
DENNIS M. CONTI, Vice-Chair, Public Safety Committee, Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis

Sadly, the answer to this question is yes. Wait.....stay with me!! Six years ago were the 9/11 attacks and a year thereafter the sniper shootings. Let's rephrase your question:

"Has Mayor Ellen O. Moyer done anything in her 6 years of mayorship to reduce crime?"

Negative. Quite.