Two days ago, this blog applauded the recent focus on crime by the city council, but lamented the circumstances that have caused this issue to stay on the back burner for so long.
Yesterday The Capital, clearly paraphrasing the excellent ideas of this site, ran an editorial saying roughly the same thing.
I think we have reached somewhat of a turning point in this argument. The prevailing political climate--which usually lags behind the will of the people (unless ignoring it completely)--is that the department needs to fill the 20+ vacancies. There is probably no amount of reluctance from the police chief, or anyone else, to stop this from happening.
So now let's ask the next question. How are we going to use these extra officers to reduce crime?
The first step is proactive enforcement. No sitting around and waiting for things to happen. This requires no new legislation; rather, simply a directive from the powers that be.
The second step is harsh penalties. If the penalties as they currently exist do not provide enough of a deterrent for crimes, those penalties have to be increased by law.
Alas, these are the relatively obvious solutions that can be used to address relatively minor violations--perhaps littering or public intoxication.
We, the citizens, are probably focused on violent crime right now. It occurs to me that violent criminals have a higher disregard for the consequences that the normal person. We need to ask how the new police officers will be used to combat violent crime. Will there be more foot patrols? Will there be cooperation with the county police? Are there other successful models that we can follow?
It is not enough to pledge to fill the police officer vacancies. There must also be a pledge to combat crime, and a proper plan to do it.