Reducing Crime In Jamestown Will Require A Multi-Pronged Approach

What can we do to reduce crime and recidivism in the Jamestown community when criminals rationalize crime and use techniques of neutralization to justify their criminal activity?

Let’s refer to my professor’s statement from part one. “If someone believes something is true, then to that person it is true, and along with it, all of its consequences.” Criminals associate with each other and believe that their criminal activity is okay and justify it in some way.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they believe they will not get caught. The data shows even after conviction, criminals often still reoffend. What can citizens do to reduce victimization and opportunities for crime while increasing perceived likelihood of arrest?

A good starting point is to alter, design and create environments that reduce opportunities for crime while increasing perceived likelihood of arrest, like community policing through environment design (CPTED).

It is a simple idea that can improve our quality of life and reduce crime. On a practical level, it means that you have the ability to reduce your likelihood of becoming a victim. Some ideas that promote this include: Installing security cameras in and around your home and business. Establish a neighborhood watch and know your neighbors and speak to them often. Install security lighting and be aware of your environment. Make sure your home and vehicles are always locked. Above all, call the police when something appears suspicious. The goal is to eliminate opportunities for crime to occur and make criminals believe they will get caught.

Jamestown’s highest index crimes are burglary and larceny. We can reduce those numbers by having residents take a more active role in reducing the opportunity for crime to occur.

Our city government has an obligation to provide a safe and secure city for its residents. There are some things that our city can do and expand on that will help to reduce crime. The most important is expanding our drug courts and treatment programs.

Drug courts can combine judicial supervision with substance abuse treatment.

Recently published findings from a major study known as the Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation show that drug courts do reduce offender recidivism. We need to collaborate with our education facilities to create programs that teach our youth the realities of drug use and addiction.

If there is no demand, the supply will go away.

The majority of criminals from Jamestown will return when they are released back into society. Often, they were struggling before they were arrested and will likely be struggling when they are released. Securing a well-paying job can help the reintegration of convicted criminals by reducing the likelihood of reoffending. Often times, this is a reason they initially engaged in criminal activity.

There were no jobs or they are unemployable; meaning they lacked the necessary knowledge or skills needed for employment positions that are available in our area. Criminals knowingly and intentionally choose crime because they believe the opportunity exists and the reasons for committing the crime is greater than the reason not to commit the crime.

This brings me to my last part about reducing crime in Jamestown.

Employment opportunities are limited. Jamestown has an abundance of residents looking for good paying jobs.

Unfortunately, high paying jobs are unobtainable to many because they are lacking education or skilled training. Employers are increasingly struggling to find employees who can pass a drug test, are dependable and have the skills that will be an asset to their business. We need to understand what businesses need from employees and coordinate with adult education and training facilities to develop high quality job training programs that meet the needs of our employers. Jamestown Community College and Jamestown Business College are fantastic resources that meet these needs.

With high quality employees, businesses will become more competitive and will be able to grow. Utilities and tax increases make doing business in Jamestown more difficult and less attractive to business development.

We need to focus on regional strategies for reducing expenses and promoting a more financial advantageous business environment. Unfortunately, Jamestown has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Ellicott.

It is doubtful Ellicott will be willing to work with us, let alone share equipment, services and discuss crime reduction and development strategies.

Jamestown would benefit from long term employment, rehabilitation and crime reduction strategies, including the development of a multiyear financial plan and budget.

If New York State is going to raise our taxes to bail out another city budget shortfall, lets make sure the money is utilized on programming that will reduce crime or increase employment opportunities. Accountability breeds responsibility and city officials should follow our city charter.

Jamestown is facing many complex and interrelated issues. The public safety committee should routinely consult experts from probation, parole, social services, child protection, corrections, and law enforcement personnel from local, state and federal agencies. Additionally, consulting with criminologists who specializes and works with municipalities could help develop crime deterrent and reduction programs.

We should provide guidance to community members who are appointed to boards by developing council approved job descriptions with minimum qualifications that correspond to the current needs. One of my business professors has offices in several countries around the world. He did not need to know the language, customs and laws of every country. He says what is most important is that he has the right employees who have the knowledge and skills so his business can flourish in those areas. The team is why his business is so successful.

Let’s encourage city leaders to create the strongest, most informed team possible.

Does unfavorable data and statistics mean Jamestown is a bad place to live?

No.

It means it is time to roll up our sleeves and work together to combat problems many places are facing. Regions that rise above similar difficulties do so by collaborating and seeking out advice from experts in their fields, not manipulating data and alienating themselves from businesses and municipalities.

If we work together we can reduce the number of victims of crimes. This will benefit all of us by reducing criminal justice related expenses while improving the quality of life and safety for Jamestown residents. Remember to be proactive and work hard to eliminate opportunities for crime. Always call the police whenever you see something suspicious. The strength of our city is in the people willing to work toward solutions together.

Michael Laurin is a Jamestown resident.

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