The vast majority of City neighborhoods are safe places.
I thought of that when Chief Joe Mokwa announced the grim toll for homicides within the City: 131. That’s more than last year, but still part of a trending down over the past five years.
When I read Chief Mokwa’s comments, I was struck by two things: how personally he took the murders, and how predictable it was that many of these crimes of violence happened in the poorest neighborhoods.
I want to be clear about what I’m suggesting. Poverty doesn’t create - nor excuse - crime. But, it is a fact that more crime occurs in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. Any social scientist, criminologist, or blogger will tell you that concentrating poverty creates a whole host of problems.
I know that Chief Mokwa will be reviewing the hundred tactics that his officers use to fight crime. I and the rest of the Police Board will be challenging him to do better.
But, I think it is fair to note that decades of regional and state policies that concentrated poverty in the urban core have created challenges that Chief Mokwa’s officers and the City budget cannot fix by themselves.
As Chief Mokwa does his part, state and federal budget makers - and teachers, pastors, judges, and community leaders - must do theirs, too.
Meaningful educations, decent paychecks, and safe places to play on Friday nights will make Chief Mokwa’s job a lot easier. And that puts legislators, business executives, and judges right out on the front lines of accountability with the chief.