On January 2, 2014, our new Chief of Police Garry Hamilton was sworn in. Garry is someone I know personally, and I have high hopes for him in his new position. Some of our citizens hope that Chief Hamilton will be able to bring about a decrease in the number of homicides in our city. This is a huge task for anyone or for any group of individuals. You can put the best minds and the best law enforcement officials together, and it would not be easy for them to come up with a quick way to reduce crime. However, we must have hope. If you are concerned or afraid, there are things you can do to try to remedy the problems. It is time for open minds to consider what things can be done to decrease crime in Fort Wayne. Each of us should ask, “What can I do as an individual to help with the problem?” Each of us needs to find out what works for us.
Watching newscasts, and reading articles on the internet, I have seen articles on reductions in shootings and homicides in the city of Chicago, Illinois. How did a reduction come about for Chicago? A January 1, 2014, Chicago Tribune article by Jeremy Gorner states, “The reductions came at a price: Nearly $100 million in overtime pay, triple what was budgeted for 2013. In addition to the hefty overtime pay, police officials credit several strategies including greater accountability from commanders and more aggressive attempts to prevent retaliatory shootings.” The article also states, “An extra 400 cops were assigned to 20 ‘impact zones’ in the most dangerous neighborhoods.” Can and should Fort Wayne pattern what was done in Chicago?
A January 1, 2014, Associated Press article relating to the reduction in Chicago homicides states, “Mayor Rahm Emanual has said that besides putting more officers on the street, various programs for young people have played a role in bringing the numbers of violent crime down. At a recent news conference, for example, the mayor said that a record 20,000 young people were involved in the city’s summer jobs program. “Jonathan Ray has spoken out on the Fort Wayne homicides. An October 20, 2013, News Sentinel article by Bob Caylor states, “On behalf of the committee, Building Bridges to a Better Community, Jonathan Ray offered the suggestions to a special discussion meeting of Fort Wayne City Council devoted entirely to the spike in homicides this year. Ray, who is president of the Fort Wayne Urban League, brought these ideas, among others, to the council: Commit to an economic-development project in southeast or central Fort Wayne; Revamp community-oriented policing to engender stronger connections with neighborhoods; Pursue greater diversity among the Fort Wayne Police Department’s homicide investigators; Track violent crimes better to better target efforts at crime prevention; Do more to support neighborhood associations and other community groups; Improve transportation and employment opportunities; Eliminate more dilapidated buildings and other eyesores.”
Fort Wayne Imani Baptist Temple Pastor Bill McGill, completed 2 hunger strikes in 2013 in an attempt to bring about an end to the killings in Fort Wayne. Other Imani members fasted also, and they and Reverend McGill gathered to pray for peace. Judge Glenda Hatchett, who presided over television show “Judge Hatchett”, spoke at Imani and shared her views on stopping the violence. She suggested mentoring, supporting, and investing in our young people. Additionally she suggested having schools open later, or having after school programs run later into the evening to help keep children out of trouble.
I believe that reducing crime in Fort Wayne will involve many of us spending time and money to help with the issue. I personally find ways to devote some of my time and money to educational improvements for others. I believe that education reduces poverty, and reducing poverty reduces crime. Of course there are many poor who will excel and become great people, and do so without my help. However, there may be some who need my help to excel. I want to do my part to help.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee