Saturday, October 28, 2017

Safety, Guns and Opportunists

As our media continues to sell fear to our increasingly consumerist culture, we are allowing a militarized mindset to rule our emotions, policies and initiatives. More guns and more police has been the rallying cry.

As Politico found, "Mass public shootings are roughly as common now as they were in the 1980s and ’90s. What has changed? The death toll."

And, as CNN discovered, this is primarily and American problem:
From 1966 to 2012, nearly a third of the world's mass shootings took place in the United States. A 2016 study looked at 292 incidents in which four or more people were killed. It found 90 of them occurred in America. Put another way: While the United States has about 5% of the world's population, it had 31% of all public mass shootings.

An odd aspect in all of this, as Five Thirty Eight detailed, is that although mass shootings have become more common in the U.S., overall gun homicides have declined.

New York Magazine looked at FBI data from 2000 to 2013:

"Yes, there’s an upward trend. But the fact is that these incidents remain exceedingly rare,declares Jesse Singal.

Singal concludes:
While there’s been a short-term increase in one very specific, narrowly defined kind of violence, the overall homicide rate in the U.S.(the purple line) is on a long-term downward trend that includes the period covered by the FBI report. Mass shootings account for a tiny, tiny percentage of the total murders in the country — in 2012, the worst recent year for mass shootings, just 0.6 percent of total murders, according to the FBI’s 2012 homicide numbers
Overall, when it comes to violence the country is safer now than it has been in decades. Obviously there’s still much vital work to be done when it comes to gun control, understanding why violent people snap, and so on. But talk of “sharp increases” in terrible, shocking, but extremely rare crimes promotes an alarmist view of the world that doesn’t quite match the facts.
City of Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski has been banging the police and safety drum lately. In his view, police are the answer. Mayor Barrett has proposed eliminating some police and fire positions in his latest budget. Zielinski has taken every opportunity he can to get in front of the camera and to issue press releases pleading for more police.

Here, again, what we think we know is false. The tripe Zielinski is peddling is false.

As Alex S. Vitale proclaims, We Need Less Policing. His research into the issue concludes:
Any real agenda for police reform should not look to make the police friendlier and more professional. Instead, it must reduce their role and replace it with empowered communities working to solve their own problems. We don’t need community control of the police. We need community control of services that will create safer, more stable neighborhoods and cities.
In We Don't Just Need Nicer Cops. We Need Fewer Cops Vitale continues:
We have to take steps to dial back our reliance on the police as the primary tool of resolving neighborhood crime and disorder problems.
And, not only do the police and fire departments take up over 87% of the entire City of Milwaukee budget. The cost of police misconduct in Milwaukee is growing.
Police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers at least $17.5 million in legal settlements since 2015, forcing the city to borrow money to make the payouts amid an ever-tightening budget.

That amount jumps to at least $21.4 million when interest paid on the borrowing and fees paid to outside attorneys are factored in.
Milwaukee Adlerman Zielinski's willingness to keep increasing the police force (and departmental budget) will do nothing for the safety of Milwaukee, but will surely crush the City budget with ever-increasing police costs. And, as the police costs continue to increase, less and less money with be available for any other programs or projects. This is ill-informed, misguided and suicidal public policy from a public servant seemingly more concerned with personal attention than with City efficiency and a responsible budget.

For those pundits and politicians that keep proclaiming more police is the answer to safety concerns, it really just shows that they haven't done their research or looked very hard at the issue.

The answer isn't more police, it's less guns and more community-oriented policies and programs.

For Further Reading:
What Does It Mean To Be Anti-Police?
Why Police Are Rarely Indicted For Misconduct
No, Protests Against Police Brutality Are Not Increasing Crime
Barrett Versus The Backdrop Boys

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