Unification News for January, 1997
Ways to Stop Crime
by Haven Bradford Gow
Reuben Greenberg, the police chief of Charleston, South Carolina, addressed law enforcement professionals, public officials, journalists and ordinary citizens in Greenville, Mississippi in a thought- provoking and significant December 2 speech on ways to reduce crime. Chief Greenberg is well-known nationally for his innovative and commonsense approaches to crime reduction which have alleviated the homicide, burglary and sexual assault rates in his city.
Chief Greenberg said the emphasis must be placed on crime prevention programs, that is, helping to prevent crimes before they occur. In so doing, the law enforcement community must work hand in hand with educators, civic leaders, business people, the media and clergy.
Author of Let's Take Back Our Streets (Contemporary Books), Chief Greenberg provided the example of how anti-truancy enforcement resulted in a 27% decrease in daytime crime. Before this anti-truancy program was implemented, kids skipping school would use their idle time to engage in burglaries, auto thefts, and the like.
Chief Greenberg dealt with this growing and alarming problem of juvenile daytime crime by hiring truant officers to go out and look for kids out of school. Every police officer was authorized to act as a "bird dog," and when officers noticed young people out of school and hanging around fast-food places, malls and neighborhoods, they would relay information to truant officers who followed up with enforcement.
Chief Greenberg also discussed Charleston's "Operation Midnight" curfew program aimed at young people out after midnight. Instead of arresting these young persons and risking the possibility of lawsuits, Chief Greenberg directed his officers to pick up the kids and bring them home. By so doing, police kept children out of trouble and, at the same time, reinforced parental rights and authority. The result: from July 1990 till the present, no juvenile has been killed by another juvenile in Charleston.
Greenville Police Chief Marvin Minor and Police Lieutenant Pam Miller also spoke to the audience, and pointed out that Greenville police have adopted and adapted many of Chief Greenberg's commonsense anti- crime strategies. For example, Greenville has effective truancy and teen curfew programs; also, as Chief Minor noted, his department has adopted a "community-oriented" approach in which officers are assigned to certain areas of the city so they can develop a bond of trust with the people in the neighborhoods. This approach has made it possible for officers to pay closer attention to nightclubs in certain neighborhoods and the problems which ensue, such as loud noise, vandalism, disorderly conduct and drug abuse.
During the question and answer session, this writer asked Chief Greenberg: "Is there a connection between organized crime and legalized gambling, and is there a connection between legalized gambling and an increase in crime?"
In response, Chief Greenberg pointed out that, from studying the experiences of Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, organized crime has its dirty hands even in legalized gambling, and that organized crime skims profits from even legal gambling enterprises.
The Charleston, S.C. police chief said casinos in and of themselves do not cause crime, noting that casinos provide excellent security; however, we usually do see with legalized gambling an increase in such crimes as street robberies and purse-snatching.
Responding to another question, Chief Greenberg noted that 86% of burglars are re-arrested within three years for committing more crimes. He said the way to deal with recidivists is to keep criminals in prison and make them serve out their sentences.
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