Blame-shifting doesn’t help fight crime

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 10, 2010

A 16-year-old is stabbed to death and a 23-year-old is charged. A woman is dragged from the sidewalk, raped and robbed and, within an hour, the same two thugs assault a tourist. Shoppers are mugged while placing groceries in their cars.

Who would want to live in a town like that? No one.

Over the years, Vicksburg has not been immune to periodic bursts of criminal activity akin to what has been recorded during the past two weeks. Affirmative steps must be taken to make sure such periodic bursts do not become the norm.

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Finger-pointing and blame-shifting are not solutions.

The people responsible for crimes are the people who commit crimes.

The role of police and sheriff’s personnel is to patrol, intensively, and to investigate, intelligently and aggressively. Such blanket statements as, “Police are not doing their jobs,” don’t help. This city can afford and should have a fully staffed, completely professional and responsive police department. But achieving those ends won’t end crime.

The role of prosecutors, jurors and the courts is to weigh evidence and, when accusations are proved, the sanctions provided by law must be imposed. But, again, it’s nonsense to blame prosecutors or courts or juries for crime.

One of the scariest facts is that crime rises when schools are out, falls when classes are in session. The numbers we reported on juvenile offenders, especially crimes of violence in 2009, were sobering.

And while it might be tempting to sit back and add poor parenting to the list of causes of crime, that will solve nothing. Criminals, old and young, attack us on all fronts. Our response must be equally comprehensive.

Many in this city work to help parents be better parents. More should enlist for the struggle, formally or informally, through a church, an established program or a start-up.

Crime is a disease that isn’t cured by talking about it. It takes direct, coordinated involvement by citizens who refuse to let their town be a place where there’s no rage or reaction when a 16-year-old is stabbed to death, a woman is dragged from the sidewalk, raped and robbed, a tourist is assaulted and shoppers are mugged while placing groceries in their cars.