Another week. Another murder. Or four.
Between Monday and Wednesday night last week there were four homicides in Stockton, bringing the total number of people killed in the city to more than 24 just this year. Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs condemned the violence in the city and is considering two controversial ways to solve the problem, one possibility could include paying criminals to not commit crimes.
“All life is sacred and even one homicide is too many…overall, crime continues to trend downward but we must remain vigilant,” Tubbs said.
Although Mayor Tubbs statement about a reduction in overall crime may be accurate as the FBI has not released statistics for crimes committed during 2017, it is clear that with 18 murders in 2015 and 49 total murders in 2016 (this time last year there were 25 total murders), Stockton is on trend to have at least as many murders, if not more, than 2016.
For comparison, LA has a population of 3.9 million people and had 136 murders in 2016. This means that for every 100,000 people in LA there are 3 who were murdered. Compare that to 16.2 out of every 100,000 people in Stockton. This put Stockton in some top 20 lists of the Nation for the highest murder rates coming in at 17th, only one of two California cites making the list including Oakland (with a rate of 23.4 murders per 100,000 people)
With a high violent crime rate, Mayor Tubbs has turned his attention towards two possible programs that he believes could help Stocktonians.
“I am always looking for solutions and researching innovative ways and to help curb crime in our city,” Tubbs said in a post Thursday night. “Making Stockton safer is a key priority for me as your mayor.”
Crime is a very serious problem that Stockton needs to combat. The two controversial programs the city is looking at to solve this problem include Project Greenlight and Advance Peace. But what would these new programs look like?
The first possible solution: Project Greenlight
The first possible solution, Project Greenlight, would be to have local businesses set up live cameras both inside and outside of their business, which are then monitored in real-time by SPD. 123 Greenlight signs lit up in neon green would also be hung conspicuously outside the businesses so that possible thieves as well as all citizens know where a Project Greenlight business is located.
Project Greenlight started in the Detroit area of Michigan as volunteer program in which local businesses could try out the program. Originally costing participants $5,000 down and $160/month, the city has claimed that crime was down 40% the first year. This number flattened out to around 10% with the city claiming that new businesses joining the program were bringing down the average. However, it must be pointed out that if the program was working really well then thieves who saw any businesses with a 123 Greenlight sign would choose other businesses to rob, thus keeping the crime statistics down.
So what is going on with Project Greenlight in Michigan now?
On April 1st, 2017, Clinton Township, Michigan’s most populated township with more than 100,000 residents, and a part of Detroit, was the first municipality in the state to mandate cameras inside and outside businesses and require a 30-day log for police investigation. The mandate will currently affect businesses that the city deemed often targets of criminals including banks, gas stations, hotels and motels, pharmacies, pawnbrokers, coin dealers, and party stores selling liquor or alcohol.
Businesses will have 6 months to comply and while there have been some possible advantages to the program including an increase in citizens getting to know their local beat officer and some businesses claiming a reduction in crime, those opposing the program cite no decrease in crime or police response time and potentially a massive invasion of privacy.
However, the question that residents did not seem to ask when Project Greenlight was proposed was, where does this end? If, as argued in Clinton Township, that having these cameras makes us all safer and would solve more crimes, then why stop there? Why not mandate that all citizens instal cameras in their homes that sync live feed with the police department? We may be giving up our privacy rights, but if it’s for the good of the community why can’t we all just sacrifice our personal freedoms? We are just giving a little to get a lot more, right? Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that a police officer was watching you as you sleep in bed every night? London’s Big Brother cameras are in abundance on almost every street corner and that has protected them from violence and terrorism, right?
The Second Possible Solution: Advance Peace
The second possible solution the Mayors is proposing for Stockton’s crime is Advance Peace, a program based out of Richmond in the Bay Area, which uses taxpayer dollars to pay men with firearm history to not shoot guns. Advance Peace is essentially the second generation version of the recently failed program in both Sacramento and Stockton, CeaseFire. “CeaseFire works with community-based organizations to develop and implement strategies to reduce and prevent violence, particularly shootings and killings.”
In comparison, the Advance Peace mission seeks to “interrupt gun violence…by providing transformational opportunities to young men involved in lethal firearm offenses and placing them in a high-touch, personalized fellowship.”
If Advance Peace is carried out similarly to other cities implementing the program, those who commit gun violence, go through the fellowship program, and become no longer violent, will then qualify for a monthly stipend upwards of $1,000. But would the new program be significantly different enough to warrant pledging money from the cities already overstretched budget? The Richmond City Council are themselves debating this exact issue. To start the Advance Peace program the city of Richmond had to commit $1.5 million over 4 years, and put up $500,000 for the first 2 years. Yet they are now suspending their decision as it could reduce grants to community groups already working with high-risk children.
However, once we decide to start paying people who have committed violence with guns not to do so, will the law stop there? Or in the interest of fairness should we then start paying people to not commit all kinds of crime? Could you teach your own children which laws are most profitable to break now for possible future earnings? What about paying convicted pedofiles when they do not rape more children?
Maybe next time you drive down to Southern California, once you get there you could contact the City of Stockton to request a check for going the speed limit the entire drive. These may seem like ludicrous examples but it’s time we start asking ourselves and the public servants we elect to represent us, what all the possible outcomes for a rule of law could be.
Churches may be the important front line in community outreach before draining city coffers
Mayor Tubbs pointed out that, “before implementing a program like Advance Peace, I would seek philanthropic dollars and not general funds.”
And Mayor Tubbs is right. It is time to arm yourself with knowledge my fellow Stocktonians. We do not need more big government to help us. They have proven too large and too inept time and time again. We need more community. We need more pride in our amazing All-American City. Let’s start asking questions again so that we can figure out how to solve our problems together. Let’s advocate for our rights and get involved so that we can make this community better together.