The meeting was a shocker. One after another, people rose to ask for more police. But except for a Hispanic man who said crime was on the rise in Vera Court since the neighborhood officer was taken away, no one talked about crime. Instead, they spoke about their perceptions of crime.
My natural tendency is more not less police. I have no problem adding 30 more police officers in this city, and frankly a few in the schools would not be the worst idea. Perception or reality, folks white, black, and brown or rich, middle class, and working class want to feel safe in their persons.
In all honesty the perception vs reality line of argumentation reminded me of the 1980’s when gangs did not, could not, would not exist in wholesome Madison, Wisconsin. One important reform from that time span was community policing. As a delinquent teenager at the time it had an important impact.
The whole perception vs reality has the stench of closeted liberals who never veer out of their isolated island. Quite frankly, if the so called progressive response is a debate between crime as perception vs crime as reality, they are going to lose.
Vicky Selkowe hit the progressive argument on the head.
Last year, residents of the Truax neighborhood did a great deal of organizing in an attempt to keep their neighborhood police officer. Despite their tremendous efforts, they lost the officer. Worthington Park (where I live) is losing its neighborhood police officer in 2008. We all are aware of the policing needs in Allied – what about Vera Court? Kennedy Heights? Todd Drive? Badger Road?
It should not be an issue of more or less police officers, but the equity in which they are distributed. At the same time there is discussion adding officers, in certain communities neighborhood officers are being cut.
The whole rationale of the 1980’s community policing was preventing rather than responding to crime. Those were different times, Madison was more segregated, white and middle class. In the end it may take more police officers to implement the neighborhood policing model in 2007.