In a recent press conference city officials announced a new initiative, Operation Ceasefire, to fight urban crime in the city due to a recent up-surge in acts of violent crime. Up until now Jacksonville has been a high ranking city for years - statistics are verifiable via census.gov - in violent crime, with activity occurring, predominantly, in traditionally poor areas of the city. We have had a rather large police force all of this time - more than a decade - so one has to wonder what has been happening all of these years.
Despite the fact that police cars patrol neighborhoods, or rather around them in many cases, we can’t seem to solve the problem of excessive violent crime in the city without declaring open season on the city’s African-American community every summer.
Now since it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with poor schools, lack of local economic development, or any other sensible issue in Northwest Jacksonville. It couldn’t be that gentrification or, to be more honest, lack of concern on behalf of City Hall in general, might be corralling the unfortunate further out from the urban core to make way for people who can afford to purchase refurbished properties from crony developers. No, it’s not any of that. Our civic leaders would have us think that is it just simply the fact that some evil spirit has inhabited the area. When one doesn’t want to look at a deteriorating situation in honest terms, one generally will resort to magical thinking.
They have actually chose to spare us all the five minutes of angst of having to hear the overdone spiritual admonishments, to identify that the main reasons for violent crime are due to drugs - you know America’s oldest enemy since the Soviet Union expired. The mayor mentioned working toward poverty by putting more children to work, citing 600 kids put to work last year, as a part of a "public/private partnership”, because, as we all know, menial low paid labor has “always helped the poor in our city”. Right?
But then, to wit, a stunning new revelation of blight was addressed and not the blight one may see on Normandy Boulevard, or in most of Arlington, but “human blight”. Denise Lee, in her own way, mentioned dealing with human blight by getting rid of things that criminals hide behind, like trees and tall grass. Some may remember Mrs. Lee got aggravated when a homeless person bothered her in Hemming Plaza and she tried to have many of the table removed. Apparently she has an idea of what “human blight” is and how to deal with it. The sum of her argument is to get the "thugs" off the street. Apparently the "thugs" Alvin Brown can’t "put to work" will end up in jail - no surprise there.
So the "thugs" are declaring war on the city Mrs Lee revealed. Apparently that would include businesses that won't cooperate with the police on the Operation Ceasefire initiative. One has to ask themselves, what does "cooperation" entail, and to what end is the city willing to go to shutdown those who don't seem to "get with the program". Mrs Lee cited a program of development in the area around Moncrief Road that produced, along with some random acts of beautification, a strip mall. That should certainly get rid of a few thugs: a strip mall. And who in Jacksonville would oppose yet another one being built to house a tenant or two and provide a little extra parking.
One may, if inclined, ask themselves how are cameras going to stop rape: incidentally the highest violent criminal offense in the city the past few years. Cameras will be placed in random spots near traffic lights around the area. It should be easy to spot a rapist in the act from a high traffic area - or a drug deal because that is certainly where they’ll, most likely, occur. One has to infer that a camera near a traffic light won't do much to stop that: although it is arguable that the cameras will aid in traffic patrol.
Sheriff Rutherford complained of cuts in police staff in 2011. The Operation Ceasefire packet, posted on coj.net, posts some rather dubious numbers, arranged rather confusingly, along with the amount of money it cost for an officer. Curiously it establishes no real argument that would justify the police going on doorknocking missions, without search warrants, based upon "tips" from the public. One can only wonder what kind of abuses of taxpayer resources(policemen) may be perpetuated to "protect one's market" or for the purposes of vendetta. Surely that has to be a consideration. Then there is the small, arguable, matter of "profiling" and this seems to be overlooked completely by these elected officials. Although City Hall isn't exactly known for devoting a lot of serious analysis before embarking on programs that may be, at best, "a waste of time", but at far worst may be, at least in terms of blurring lines, against our Bill of Rights - not that anyone in America pays attention to that kind of thing anymore.
The question and answer session pretty much sums up City Halls attitude: we're doing this, we don't have a reasonable argument above the visceral for doing it, and we're not especially concerned with any details. This is an attitude with an arrogance that should outrage any reasonable person in the city whether they be a Statist Liberal or a small government Conservative. It should concern people in the city concerned that this program may be expanded to their parts of the city based upon the idea of, "well it worked here". How can any person outraged by the actions of the NSA and the flagrant intrusions of the National Security State since 9/11 not be, in the least, concerned that government, yet again, is selling the idea of security in order to abridge the right of privacy, and sidestep our tradition of legal protection against unwarranted searches and seizures. Even worse how can reasonable people in this stand the affront to their collective intelligence.
So where, Jacksonville, is your outrage?