On Doing Nothing

Philadelphia politicians are good at at least one thing: pretending to do something while in reality doing nothing. Philadelphia’s media culture, generally content to play along with these games, may be starting to get real:

Of course, no civic effort can work if law enforcement doesn’t do a better job of protecting witnesses who do try to help.

Political leaders have not been passive. City Hall points out that Mayor Street has hired 200 more police officers, opened five curfew centers, and organized mayors in cities throughout Pennsylvania to campaign for more gun controls.

At first. it seems they will fall back to the idea of blaming the cops for not doing their job, while the politicians fiddle, but then they surprise me:

All of that is good and necessary, but Street has failed to effectively use his office as a bully pulpit to rally residents around a public-safety crusade. He and Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson have not been the public leaders this city so badly needs.

Most of the killings fit patterns among victims and perpetrators that show where much more aggressive action can be taken.

Thirty percent of last year’s gun-homicide victims were in the middle of criminal proceedings when they were fatally shot. Many of the victims also have records. They are in identifiable groups of people known to authorities.

More parole and probation officers may be of greater service than more police for monitoring the felons who end up shooting someone or being shot. They can cut parolees’ access to guns.

They are completely correct to question Street and Johnson’s leadership. I’m glad to see them doing this! Where I disagree is that the city needs more probation and parole officers, rather than police officers. No! The city needs more criminals behind bars where they belong. If the justice system does not stop becoming a revolving door, that keeps putting dangerous individuals back on the street, this isn’t going to get better. Police are important, but police can’t do their job in the face of a criminal justice system that treats criminals as victims, to be coddled, rather than as miscreants, to be removed from society.

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