Thursday, October 22, 2009

The politics of crime and violence

To the editor:

Well over a year ago, the newspaper published a letter I wrote about the escalating crime in this city, particularly in Westfort. I called upon the chief of police to disclose crime statistics through the media on a regular basis.

Years ago, the police released weekly and/or monthly crime stats published in The Chronicle-Journal and The Post (now The Source). No one can explain to me why this suddenly stopped. No one, except for one city councillor who contacted me concerning my letter and suggestions to improve public safety and policing, including the beat style of policing in neighbourhoods and business districts throughout the city.

When I think of the chief of police’s name, the one that quickly comes to mind is Chris Adams. I, like many others, really have to think hard to recall the chief’s name. Finally, many in this community have been speaking publicly for weeks and standing up for our police officers who put themselves at risk on the front lines every day.

The chief typically gets press coverage when appointed to a board or attending a conference. Yet, Mr. Herman rarely addresses the public directly about our safety concerns and the high incidence of violence and crime. His recent remarks to the media that increasing crime and violence in this city are based on individual perceptions is deplorable.

Avoid certain areas, especially at night, he said. Good luck convincing everyone who lives and works in those areas to pack up and move away so the scumbags can completely take over. I’m sure that businesses trying to make an honest living in those areas he tells us to avoid aren’t impressed with such idiotic solutions.

A very small percentage of crime and violent incidents are actually reported in the media.

Why are you trying to hide the truth, Mr. Herman? We all have the right to know about what’s really going on in our neighbourhoods, yet you and the police services board continue to make excuses for keeping us in the dark.

You all must think that the public is collectively stupid and unaware of what’s really going on in our neighbourhoods. We talk to officers off the record. We talk to our neighbours. We talk to business owners. We talk to emergency services staff.

We know a lot more than you think we do, so stop treating us like we’re imbeciles. Our elected city councillors and mayor seem to have collective laryngitis. To my knowledge, as of this date none have publicly addressed our concerns and demands for solutions.

In my opinion, it’s time for Mr. Herman to resign. We need strong leadership in this community, people who are committed to increasing public safety and allocating police resources when and where they are needed. Leaders with the necessary fortitude and vision to empower this community.

I have a solution for Mr. Herman and the police services board – do the honourable thing and resign. You are all a big part of the problems plaguing this community.

Kathy McGowan,
Thunder Bay