Tuesday, March 30, 2010

State of the City: Safety

Mayor Brent Ives spent some time talking about Tracy's safety, including the high-profile crimes of the past year that drew a bunch of not-so-welcome attention to the otherwise low-profile city.

While giving the standard denunciation of such acts, the mayor pointed to oft-publicized statistics that show Tracy's a relatively safe place to live and gave props to the police for their work.

But as we've discussed here before, raw numbers don't make folks feel safe walking the street at night. That's what people are looking for. And after last year's five homicides and December shootings, I get the sense that secure feeling is lacking.

(Also, those statistics can be fudged. Not only by how many crimes go unreported to police, but in how police choose to or are instructed to write up incidents. Reliable sources tell me that police in Tracy aren't under any pressure to massage statistics here, but I know it does happen in some departments.)

That aside, people want to feel safer, regardless of what some spreadsheet says.

Unfortunately, this is not a problem that's fit to be laid wholly at the feet of law enforcement. While police are a primary weapon in fighting crime, it's not just up them to make the streets safer. (And please, don't tell me the city needs to embark on a safety marketing campaign.) Safe streets start at the neighborhood level, with people using their local parks and front porches.

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