Democracy: A Search for Solutions Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Jack Levine - The Arrest – 1983—oil on canvas— 24 ¼ x 24 ¼ inches—Gift of Ralph Shumacker in loving memory of his wife, Elizabeth Schumacker—Collection of the Hunter Museum of American Art, 1998.11 (Art © Estate of Hughie Lee-Smith/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Art © Estate of Jack Levine /Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY)
When discussing public policy, we tend to view the world through a monetary lens. Simply “throwing money” at a problem does not make it go away, and doing so often disregards the importance of socio-cultural variables - the people and social trends involved in the process. The best piece of legislation with a huge amount of financial backing will still fail if those working on it are not inspired and empowered to make it succeed.
Addressing crime is no different. We tend to forget that police officers are human, and we rarely see ourselves as part of the crime-prevention process. But in order to reduce crime, everyday citizens must be involved, police officers must be morally supported, and local government officials must consider how all political resource allocation affects the Police Department’s ability to do its job well.
Funding is definitely crucial, and the more police officers a city can hire, the better; but economic pressures are relentless, and there are specific ways we - the City of Chattanooga- can better utilize the resources we already have in place to reduce crime rates. The Police Department is already over-worked and under-funded; and so we must take responsibility for becoming more active.
Over the past 4.5 years, CreateHere’s work has proven two things about improving a community, through government oversight or grassroots organizations:
1. It takes catalysts, leaders unshakably committed to solving a problem.
2. It takes innovation, creative thinking to deploy new ideas when older soltuions aren’t working.
The unique skills and ideas of local residents - the ability for us to adapt old knowledge to new demands - are crucial to the future of America’s communities. Social networks and relationships are the fuel that power this system. Large organizations using traditional models of community maintenance are mostly keeping issues from getting out of control, but are rarely solving problems completely. Smaller citizen groups, driven by passion and rooted in social connectivity, can solve problems. This notion is the essence of true democracy.
The Broken Windows Brigade intends to unite the community to support the ongoing work of the Chattanooga Police Department and provide resources to help citizens develop true solutions to local issues concerning crime. While money is important and government intervention is necessary, the people are the way to true solutions.