Half Past the Month

August 12, 2021

Mayor Hogsett Maps Out Indianapolis Public ‘Safety’

“They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.” — Micah 4:4, quoted by George Washington in his 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport.

FOR MORE THAN A HALF CENTURY, since the riots in the Watts district of Los Angeles, progressives have been throwing money at inner-city communities hoping some of it would stick. Mayor Joe Hogsett this week carried on that tradition announcing a plan carefully modeled on what has been shown not to work.

Yes, there is funding for some police gizmos that will track gunfire, the usefulness of which depends on whether a prosecutor will risk the displeasure of George Soros-like political donors and actually charge any of the perps rounded up.

But that is only a tiny item in the $166 million that Hogsett would spend on what he broadly defines as public safety. The sum approaches that needed to give every inner city resident a flat-out bribe to stop 1) killing each other and 2) endangering the mayor’s political future.

So crime does pay, or at least crime that increases at a rate that begs political accountability. Thus, there will be a larger than usual ration this year for feel-good projects dreamed up by the ever-present virtucrats, race hustlers, rent-seekers and grifters. Here are examples lauded this week by that self-styled criminologist James Briggs, columnist for the Indianapolis Star:

“The two most promising ideas in my view are Hogsett’s proposals to spend $30 million on mental health services and $37 million to take six peacemakers, who work on resolving conflicts before they spill into violence, and expand it to a staff of 50. In addition, Hogsett wants to award $15 million per year over three years to community groups and spend millions more on hunger relief and re-entry services.” 

Briggs is right — sort of. There are social interventions for helping inner-city children and adolescents that have proven to work in specific circumstances: mentoring for young men without fathers, educational enrichment, preschool, counseling services and the like.

But an actual crime expert, Raj Chetty of Harvard University, adds a qualification. He has conducted detailed geographic analyses of upward socioeconomic mobility down to the level of city blocks. Chetty found that those neighborhoods that most of us would consider promising, regardless of income level, are those with low racial bias and high levels of social interaction. 

These are the places, the special circumstances, where “we’re all in this together” is more than just a slogan. The problem is that when crime increases so does bias and a reluctance to interact. Fewer feel like joining in on another round of kumbaya. The special circumstances evaporate.

On that point, the social scientist Charles Murray, though roundly hated by wokesters such as Briggs, has something important to say:

“All (social interventions) have a chance of making a contribution if they are implemented in neighborhoods where they are reinforced by large numbers of functional two-parent families. But African and Latin parents in such families have exactly the same priority as those in functional two-parent European and Asian families: Do everything possible to find a safe place to raise their children. The result is that most of them have left high-crime areas for other neighborhoods and that the sponsors of the interventions do not have large numbers of functional two-parent families to reinforce their efforts. The places where the need for social interventions is greatest are the places where they have the least chance of working.”

Heather Mac Donald, another crime expert, agrees:

“The one public-health/social-service intervention that would make a profound difference in combating inner-city violence is the reconstruction of the black family. Public officials must recognize the problem and promote the role of fathers in raising law-abiding children. Mayors are predictably silent about family breakdown, however, preferring to focus on an ‘all-of-government approach’ to gun violence.” 

Indeed, Mayor Hogsett’s gun-control plan is a dodge, an attempt to misdirect from all of that. There is no policy that is more loved by progressive voters but has been more thoroughly debunked. For starters, virtually all of the guns used in Indianapolis crimes already are being carried illegally. Hogsett, then, would outlaw or severely restrict the rest. It is a plan so risible that only a politician in desperate need of an anti-crime plan, any anti-crime plan, could take it seriously.

But how about this: FBI statistic show that in a typical American city a subset of the population amounting to less that .05 percent is responsible for somewhere between 50 percent and 75 percent of homicides.

That suggests police should stop and search anyone in that subset wandering around a high-crime area around 3 a.m., say, and arrest or detain him (men make up 92.7 percent of the prison population) if justified by a record search or evidence collected by the investigating officer. 

Do that and your murder rate goes down — guaranteed.

And that is exactly the kind of draconian method that the Indy Star and Mayor Hogsett abhor. — tcl


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