Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Guest Post: Frank Short on Crime in Indy

From time-to-time, I open up my blog to guest posts.  This one is from Washington Township Trustee and candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis, Frank T. Short.  It was written on Friday of last week, and I received it yesterday.
My View
Frank T. Short
Washington Twp. Trustee

By Frank T. Short, July 11, 2014

It’s job one of any government, the first and foremost obligation of the social contract: keeping our citizens safe.

And it’s a job where our City is failing us.

This city’s latest spasm of violence last weekend that claimed the life of a police officer and put bullets into the bodies of seven more of our neighbors rightly shocks the conscience. Our hearts break for the victims and those who love them. But it’s only the latest evidence of a disturbing trend that’s running deeper – a city that’s not getting the job done on its most basic task. It’s costing us the lives too many of our citizens, and costing all of us the basic peace of mind we deserve.

After the work of a generation to reduce the high levels of crime that plagued our city and our nation, we see that progress beginning to slip away – and see the risk of a vicious cycle where people are fearful of going out or even sitting on their porches, increasingly leaving our shared public spaces empty, and in turn abdicating those spaces to criminals.

More crime leads to less public activity leads to more crime.

Simply put: we can’t be a great city if we can’t keep ourselves safe.

I've represented our men and women in blue as their advocate for years working with the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police. I have worked tirelessly to make sure they have the resources to perform their duties and we have strengthened the laws to assist them as they protect us. I have also served as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Indiana Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission. And I’ve worked with the Hundred Club, an organization that provides assistance for families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Anyone who’s listened to the police could have seen these problems coming years in advance. We have a city government whose poor choices and wrong priorities have left us with too few cops on the beat, not enough resources for law enforcement to keep on top of the latest challenges, and too many excuses from this administration whose proposed solution is for all of us to adjust downward our basic expectations about public safety.

A City who leaves its police woefully outnumbered is a City who’s not taking crime seriously, no matter how many “serious” sounding press releases they may produce.

Also, cops themselves are the first to tell you that real efforts to promote public safety take place long before police get involved. Catching and punishing criminals after the fact is important work, but it’s preventing crime in the first place – preventing criminals in the first place – that really makes us safer.

Being serious about crime means being smart about crime prevention. The good news is that we know exactly what that entails: Real investments in summer jobs. Real partnerships between law enforcement and church and civic groups. A real effort to keep guns out of the hands of people like criminals and domestic abusers. Real opportunities for vulnerable populations to participate in the growth of our city.

In short, crime prevention works. Unless you shortchange it.

The bad news is this administration cut crime prevention grants to some of our most effective agencies, with cuts in some fiscal years running as high as 50%. A City who has always been able to find the cash to pay for special priorities and special deals – a certain cricket field comes to mind – somehow can’t find the money to cover the basics. And, of course, we have left in place a relationship with the state legislature that’s left us a net donor county to the rest of the state to the tune of $350 million dollars per year.

And the long term consequences are with us.

I don’t promise that an additional $350 million to fund key priorities like police officers and crime prevention programs would restore Indianapolis’ sense of public safety. But I’d sure like us to be able to find out.

If talking tough were enough to restore our city’s public safety, our current approach would be fine. But making our city safe again is a matter of making smarter choices – having better priorities and the commitment to implement them. Cops are as tired as the rest of us seeing these obvious needs going unmet.

The answers for making our city safer are in front of us. I will be a Mayor who’s committed to them.

You can contact Short at info@shortformayor.com.

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