Editor, The Commercial:
I attended a meeting last evening (Aug. 31) at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center and residents talked about gunshots and neighborhood improvement, among other things.
Citizens in Pine Bluff want relief from all the gunfire occurring too frequently in their neighborhoods. Some residents said they had to dive on the floor, that bullets were coming into homes because of gunfire.
Some believed if the city had more police officers, that would do the trick. However, as a crime prevention practitioner with almost three decades of experience and training in crime prevention programs, as well as a former program coordinator for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, I learned crime prevention is a community problem and not a law enforcement one. I felt so much empathy for the people who attended this meeting, looking for relief.
I sat in my chair with a wealth of knowledge, crime-fighting tools, best practices, and crime strategies to share and was told to be brief in explaining the Shotspotter technology where the majority present had no idea what it was or how this technology worked.
I thought the purpose of the meeting was to look for ways to reduce crime. Citizens experiencing gunshots in their neighborhoods should demand the Shotspotter technology for their safety. Grant funds for police officers is something for the council to research. However, to conflate Shotspotter funding with other projects can be misleading. I encourage our community to visit this youtube link for additional information regarding Shotspotter Technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY8A6uMet48 .
The organizing group had the overall crime stats, which was a good thing. However, lumping 20 years of crime statistics together is not good when developing a crime strategy because statistics change over time.
I would encourage the group to conduct a needs assessment utilizing current crime data. Conduct a crime problem analysis. Determine the long and short-term outcomes. Develop a "Crime Prevention Work Plan or Strategy," which includes Neighborhood Restoration, Prevention, Intervention and Treatment, and Community Policing to produce an effective crime reduction strategy.
Also, I suggest each Ward have a strategy that addresses crime in their neighborhood. It should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. Residents must get involved to be successful because reducing crime never happens without residents. Crime prevention is a community problem, not a law enforcement one. These are some points to develop a crime prevention strategy.
Rev. Jesse C. Turner, executive director,
Pine Bluff Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Inc.