March 19, 2009
The Perfect Storm of Crime
There’s a perfect storm brewing. It’s not a thing of nature or weather or climate. It’s a thing of men. There are three seemingly independent situations that are going to combine into the greatest criminal wave to hit this country since Prohibition in the 1920’s or the bank robbers of the 1930’s.
The first theme in this symphony of crime is the current economic crisis, which contrary to mainstream economists, shows no sign of getting better. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have evaporated in the last few months and, if anything, the number is increasing daily. Whenever the economic situation gets bleak, rise in criminal activity is not far behind.
The second melody in the symphony is the pending release of people jailed during the height of the War on Drugs in the 1980’s. Most of these guys were given 20-25 year sentences. They’ll be due for release over the next few year. In a normal economic environment they’d be hard pressed to find a job, especially with a felony hanging over them like a Sword of Damocles. What chance do they have to find gainful employment now? Not to mention that they’ve spent the last two decades in the real-life version of the School for Scoundrels. No, they’ll go back to what they knew, drugs now with schooling in how to really be criminals.
The third movement in the symphony regards the forces of Light. It’s not only the criminals who will feel the consequences of the economic meltdown we’re now suffering through. Budgets for city and county law enforcement are being squeezed all over the nation due to declining tax receipts. A friend of mine told me that one of the counties around here are freezing the pay, not hiring any more officers and denying overtime in order to meet budget cuts. While this might be a good idea in the long term, it has serious detrimental effects when you look at long-term consequences.
First, by freezing pay, you increase the chance that people will choose to do something other than police work. Especially among the older, more experienced officers and detectives. This brain drain will take some time to manifest, but when it does the effects will be noticeable with less cases closed and irreplaceable knowledge and skill lost to the next generation of law enforcement. Second, by not hiring new officers, when crime does pick up, the newly pared down force will need to take up the slack. But wait, if they deny overtime, who will take up the slack?
When you combine the three factors, more people choosing crime, more criminals getting out of prison and less police on the streets, things start to look grim. At leas they do if you don’t believe there is anything you can do about it. The good news is that there is plenty a citizen can do to protect themselves from the coming storm. Much like preparing for a storm, it takes a little foresight and planning, but even this can be weathered. We’ll look at how in coming posts.