Swatting the ‘petty’ crimes ended chaos in New York

Published 12:30 am Sunday, July 11, 2010

When Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor of New York, that city had one of the highest crime rates in the USA. After three or four years of his leadership, New York was rated one of the safest cities in the nation.

Among other things, Giuliani reduced crime by implementing a “zero tolerance” approach, placing an emphasis on enforcing laws against nuisance crimes as well as serious offenses. He achieved a 50 percent decrease in crime overall and reduced murders by 70 percent. Eventually the FBI recognized New York as the safest large city in America.

Vicksburg may be in the same shape as New York before Giuliani took over, with stabbings, shootings, residential robberies, vehicle thefts, etc., occurring often and with apparently increasing frequency. Can at least some of the crime be attributed to the Vicksburg Police Department’s lack of enforcement of laws against “nuisance” crimes?

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It’s a fact that police here do not enforce the noisy vehicle laws — whether it’s loud music or lack of proper mufflers that rattle windows for blocks around. It’s a fact that they do not enforce the parking ordinances — whether on the sidewalk, lawns or restricted areas, people park wherever they want with no fear of a citation being issued. The police have even refused to enforce obvious parking violations when called to their attention.

It’s a fact that they do not enforce the ordinances against littering. Just look around. It’s a fact that they do not enforce the laws against loitering. Check out Washington or Clay streets after 10 p.m. It’s a fact that they do not always enforce the reckless driving laws. Vehicles often leave smoking rubber on downtown streets with such a racket that anyone in the VPD building would have to be deaf not to hear.

These are the obvious unenforced laws; you have to wonder how many other not-so-obvious laws are unenforced.

Would a tougher policy have prevented the 70-year-old tourist from being robbed and injured, or any one of the many victims of shootings and stabbings from being killed or hospitalized, or one of the many car or residential thefts from happening? I don’t know. But if it worked for Giuliani, might it not work here?

If you stop to think about it, when the police decide which laws they’re going to enforce, and which they are not, they’ve taken a step toward anarchy.

Malcolm Allred, Vicksburg