Get Your Priorities Straight
Let’s take another look at the odd cultures growing the petri dish of left-leaning activism that is California. As budget woes start to hit the state at a greater level, the impact appears to be emerging city by city, and not in very pleasant ways.
First, to Oakland, where the unintended consequences of a “play nice” mayor’s office and a lousy budget prioritization is starting to look more an more dangerous every day.
There’s been a precipitous decline in arrests in Oakland – a 44 percent drop from 2008 to 2011, according to a Chronicle investigation. And even as arrests have bottomed out, the city’s crime rate has climbed in each of the past two years, including an overall 23 percent increase this year.
One of the most startling statistics, the Police Department’s homicide clearance rate, is particularly troubling. Through October, the department posted a 27 percent homicide clearance rate, a measure of cases that have been solved. By comparison the department’s homicide clearance rate was 54 percent in 2007.
The article goes on to blame the Oakland officials themselves, where the mayor is focusing on peaceful goodwill activities rather than actual, you know, prosecution of crime. As I said above, I’m sure it has to do with the budget of a city that already focuses much of its dollars on kindness programs.
Next, to San Bernadino, where the police force just put a cap on its headcount… below where it already stands.
Although its crime numbers have declined overall since 2005 (leveling out in 2011 and 2012), San Bernardino remains among the most dangerous cities of its size in the country, posting about twice as many crime incidents as the national average. Violent crime in San Bernardino is especially high, twice that of California as a whole. San Bernardino’s 260 officers compare favorably to the 214 on the Gilbert, AZ police force, a city in the same size category (200,000-215,000). But Gilbert’s crime numbers are lower – much lower. Cities with crime rates similar to San Bernardino’s, like Spokane, WA, Birmingham, AL, Richmond, VA, and Rochester, NY, have much larger police forces, running to sworn-officer rosters between 700 and 800.
So the San Bernardino city attorney advised citizens at a community meeting in November to “Go home, lock your doors, and load your guns.”
While I’m sure said city attorney is being excoriated by the likes of Sunday Night Football announcers, the advice is probably sound. At some point, the population of the US has gotten so used to government support for crime prevention, that it’s forgotten that citizens have to have a hand in their own protection. That might seem a bit harsh, but who among us doesn’t lock their doors in a busy city anymore? When the criminal element doesn’t pay attention to the locks, then the defensive measures need to escalate.
But to the point, we’re watching a potential future of the entire US play itself out on our left-leaning (literally) coast. At some point, we need to recognize that appeasement and be-nice attitudes are not the winning strategies for a government sworn to protect the people, and that might mean that the people have to find ways to better protect themselves. The unintended consequences otherwise are going to be very messy.