5.08.2009

Tough On Crime...But What About The Causes Of Crime?

I have to get this off my chest, but first, the following caveats:

1.) I recognize and appreciate the very, very tough job the police do.

2.) An adequately-funded police force is essential and politicians who cheap out on this are rats.

3.) A good cop is more than worth his or her weight in gold.

Okay...so an unamed but reliable source I know quite well had a friend graduate from Saskatchewan Police College today and as a result this person attended the graduation ceremonies.

And this individual of my acquaintence was irked by the pro-Saskatchewan Party speech given by one of the commencement speakers, Saskatchewan Police Commission Chair Mitch Holash.

Holash reportedly told graduates how lucky they were to begin their careers after the last provincial election, when there's been a change in the Saskatchewan government's direction. He spoke about a "paradigm shift", and now there's more resources for police (apparently he used the word "blessed")

This implicitly suggests the NDP were poor supporters of the police by comparison.

I have a few problems with this pro-Sask. Party propoganda. First, sending an underhanded political messageto graduating students is a crummy thing to do, period--whatever the speakers' political affiliations, or the fact that they're a political appointee or whatever.

Second, I'm not at all convinced the Saskatchewan Party will be more effective supporters of law enforcement than the NDP were--and if they are, a chunk of the credit has to go to the economic boom that really only got rolling in the last three years. We all recognize the Sask Party government waltzed into office in a sweetheart situation. Let's see what they've built with it after four years.

Third, this speech really rankles because the Saskatchewan Party government seems, to me, to lean towards an overly-simplistic understanding of crime, making them less effective than the NDP were. If you're really serious about reducing theft, vandalism and violence, you need to address the factors that help create it: poverty, unemployment, racism, hopelessness.

I don't think Sask Partiers generally get that.

One of the first things the Sask. Party did after coming to power was yank funding from Station 20 West in Saskatoon, a planned inner city centre that would've brought health and other services to a stressed community. Of paticular note was the plan to set up a grocery store in the centre.

For a lot of reasons, large grocery chains like Safeway and Superstore don't set up shop in inner cities, and this creates a situation where lower-income households have a hard time buying food. This grocery would've filled a critical need by providing local, affordable groceries to a community that can't neccessarily just hop into a car, drive to a box store and buy $200 worth of groceries for a week.

Premier Brad Wall called to Station 20 West a "mall" and said government shouldn't support malls. The result: poor families in a high-risk neighbourhood have a hard time buying healthy food for their kids.

Wall didn't get it. And because he didn't get it, a community with high crime rates lost an important facility that would've made it stronger.

Fighting crime isn't just about hiring police and sending them out to catch bad guys. You fight crime by building resilient communities. So far I've seen nothing to suggest the Sask. Party will be better at that than the NDP were.

And that means police graduates aren't waltzing into a community where they have more support from government. If anything, it really means they have less.

5 comments:

saskternality said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
saskternality said...

I little long but interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9PGEGHwLWQ&feature=channel_page

http://ryanmeili.ca/justice

Stephen Whitworth said...

Note to commenters: please write a brief description of where your links go so readers have some idea about the URLs they're pasting into their browser windows.

Note to readers: The first link goes to a video of NDP leadership candidate Ryan Meili talking about the importance of Station 20 West. the second link goes to Ryan Meili's leadership campaign. Presumably they're posted by a sneaky Meili campaign supporter. They're relative to the original post's topic however, so despite the blatant abuse of our blog for someone's political campaign, I'm leaving 'em in.

Prairie dog is not planning to endorse a candidate in the upcoming NDP leadership vote. Some of our writers inevitably will, which is fine. We will cover the NDP campaign in both of our the next two issues.

saskternality said...

Sorry about the lack of description, I need to learn how you embed a link in a word.

I am a regular Prairie Dog reader and haven't seen much leadership coverage in your pages, even though most NDP voters (I think many are Planet S, Prairie Dog readers) will be voting in the next week or two by mail in ballot.

If you want lots of up to date info about the campaign I would suggest the Accidental Deliberations Blog. http://accidentaldeliberations.blogspot.com/

Head Tale said...

Great article - especially the point about the need for a grocery store in this type of integrated facility. I'm not positive but I don't think the integrated facility being planned for north-central Regina even has plans for a grocery store.

As a Ryan Meili supporter (though not the one who posted the links above), I'm glad you left the links as I don't think they were posted just to promote the candidate.

Ryan's stance is very relevant to your topic - both because he was heavily involved with Station 20 West and also because he is taking a more holistic approach to justice than the "Lock 'em up and toss away the key" message that recruits are apparently getting these days. (Yikes!)

Keep up the good work!