I started this post originally as a comment on this thread
over at Cruiser's blog
. He's made several posts lately about the crime problem, so without trying to disagree or rebut what he's saying, I thought I'd take my too-long comment and make it into a post of my own. As usual, I'll preface this by saying I fully agree that Davenport has a crime problem, but disagree about some of the things being said about it.
There was some discussion about Sheriff Joe down in Arizona's Maricopa county. Basically, I said that his tough love brand of Sheriff-ing must not be working too great, because crime is terrible down there. The bad parts of the Phoenix metro make the worst parts of the QC look like luxury housing. I've spent at least a week down there every year for the last 5 or 6 years, and some areas are pretty rough. Someone asked for stats, and Cruiser posted them, showing that per capita, Davenport is worse than Phoenix on some crimes. Murder was one of the few that Phoenix was worse in, even taking population into account.
The fact that even per-capita they have more murders than us is the scariest part. Murders tend to look the worst for smaller towns, because it only takes a few, divided among a smaller number of people, to look quite bad. For example, if McCausland, Iowa (population 300) had 1 murder last year, it would be 5000 murders in Phoenix terms. According to Cruiser's stats, Phoenix only had 220 murders. Obviously Davenport is no McCausland, but the same kind of distortion can happen.
The fact is, stats can only show so much. Crimes that go unreported don't count at all in the UCR index, small towns' per capita crimes can provide distorted pictures, etc. It doesn't take statistics to know we have a crime problem, because its obvious just from living in Davenport. Stats tell us what we already know, and they give no help on solving the problem.
For example, stats don't tell us how nearly all of Davenport's murder victims in the last several years knew their killer. I honestly can't think of a murder in the last 3 years where they weren't associates or enemies. If you don't hang out with drug dealers, gang members, or insane teenagers, you have almost no chance of being murdered in Davenport. However, bullets don't care who they hit, so the rest of us can't sit back and say "let them kill each other off," because our kids could be killed by a stray round. Its just a complicated problem. If juries decide to turn loose people as bad as Pachino Hill, something's wrong with us (or our peers) too.
And for the record, I feel much safer here, and would MUCH rather work as a cop in the QC area than the Phoenix area. The fact that even lower-to-middle class families have burglar alarms should tell you something about people's feelings of safety in the PHX area.As far as the Guardian Angels
, Cruiser asked why Bill Davis would possibly be against them coming to Davenport's aid. I would guess that he's wary because its essentially a group of people who are at best amateurs, and at worst, cop wannabes or vigilantes, trying to "help" with the crime problem. If these people simply stand watch and call the police when they see a crime, there would be few problems besides how well a red-bereted "Angel" would play with a jury as a witness.
However, if this is all they're going to be, we already have the VIPS program. Why not just expand that program, which provides volunteers to patrol the skybridge, downtown, or other fairly safe areas, therefore freeing up cops to spend more time in the places that need them. If the Guardian Angels do anything beyond whipping out a cell phone and calling the police, such as apprehending people and making citizens' arrests, you've got a whole slew of possible legal trouble and liabilities. Expanding the VIPS program beyond the senior citizen activity that it currently is seems like a great idea, but when it comes to guys wearing berets marching down the street, we have to think twice.