Editorial: Responding to the increase in violent crime is an urgent need
Pay attention to the news from Washington, DC and you’ll hear political speeches on a number of hot topics these days, from national infrastructure needs to illegal border crossings, stagnant vaccination rates to political stances in the Middle East. , from partisan quarrels to electoral illusions.
But we don’t hear much about the scourge of violent crime that has become a daily reality in the largest cities of our country, and that is unfortunate.
Living near Atlanta, it’s hard not to become insensitive to the seemingly everyday stories of murders, assaults and armed hijackings that take place there, but so too are many other large municipalities. from the country.
How many weekends have there been fatal shootings inside the perimeter of I-285 that separates downtown from its suburbs? How many weekday news shows do not contain stories of violent attacks on innocent people?
And lest we think it’s an Atlanta problem that doesn’t affect those of us who don’t live there, we have to remember that the state capital is the engine that drives the rest. from Georgia. It is the epicenter of the state’s economic growth, a transportation and trade hub for all of Georgia, and the center of political power.
We’re deluding ourselves if we don’t understand that Atlanta’s long-term vitality impacts the quality of life for those of us who live in Hall County.
Unfortunately, the problem isn’t just Atlanta. Statistics recently released by the Major Cities Chiefs Association indicate that homicides and aggravated assaults for the first three months of 2021 have exceeded the numbers recorded during the same period last year.
Based on figures collected from 63 major metropolitan police organizations, homicides for the first quarter of 2021 totaled 1,721, up from 1,337 a year ago. Agencies reported 54,025 aggravated assaults, up from 49,388 last year.
Last year was bad, this year is worse.
In the first three months of 2021, Chicago reported 134 homicides, Houston 94, Los Angeles 96, Philadelphia 120. More than one per day in each of these cities; all more than what was reported last year. Comparatively, Atlanta’s 33 homicides in three months seem tame.
The reports of aggravated assault cited in the summary are staggering. In three months, Houston brought in 4,378; Los Angeles 4,331; Chicago 3,296; Detroit 2,590. Atlanta had 595, up from 414 in the same period last year.
Last year, homicides in the country’s largest cities increased by a third from the previous year; this year is about to be even worse.
The theories explaining why are plentiful. The pandemic has closed courts and opened prison cells; the riots of last summer resulted in a loss of respect for the police and a reduction in the police force; cultural wars; economic tensions; stormy political environments.
The nation’s political leaders do not seem to feel the urgent need to elevate the issue of violent crime to the rank of priority as they strive to solve the nation’s problems, perhaps because it is difficult to do so. do so while keeping their political bases happy. The Biden administration and the majority in Congress are more than willing to tell local governments how to run their elections, but are apparently content to let local governments worry about the safety of their citizens.
Maybe the politicians in Washington need to do some shopping in Atlanta malls to get a better idea of the problem.
We’ll probably be hearing a lot in the coming months about possible solutions to Atlanta’s violence problems, as jockeys contestants hope to become the city’s next mayor. It will be impossible to campaign without addressing the violent realities that residents and visitors to the city face on a daily basis.
And just as there are plenty of theories as to why violence is erupting across the country, there are plenty of ideas to help solve the problem.
For us, the most obvious first approach must be to restore respect for law enforcement officials and the administration of justice through the courts.
Rather than discussing the funding of police officers, governments should look for ways to better pay the officers they hire to do terribly difficult and dangerous work; better train those authorized to wear a badge so that they are equipped to deal with all the situations they may be confronted with; and fully assimilate law enforcement officers in each cultural community.
Respect is earned, it cannot be given. The vast majority of law enforcement officials have proven time and time again that they deserve the respect of the communities they serve. We should not lose sight of this.
Courts must be more diligent in keeping violent criminals in jail, and those who quickly consider committing violent crimes must be convinced that the punishment will be both harsh and swift.
Law-abiding citizens in all communities must refuse to tolerate criminal behavior in their neighborhood, must refuse to allow criminal activity to be acceptable.
And, perhaps most importantly, we must ensure that the youngest among us reach adulthood with respect for the sanctity of human life.
Yes, the issues that lead to violent crime need to be addressed – economic decline, poverty, desperation, social inequalities – but before that can happen in any meaningful way, we must again reach the point where a visitor passing through a major city can. expect to put gasoline safely in your car without fear of getting shot.