That’s it!

Crime and gun violence is a serious issue in the country, Illinois and the city of Freeport. There is much scholarly, well-researched work that has been done in an effort to explain increasing crime and gun violence. There is a predominant position in most of society today that crime reduction cannot be effectively addressed except by beefing up public safety personnel (police departments) and implementing technology to help catch criminals. The prevailing theory is if there is more police/law enforcement presence and more technology on the streets, crime will automatically be reduced.

The work of crime research scholars wholeheartedly disagree with this strategy. It has been proven time and again that more policing does not substantially reduce overall crime trends.

To emphasize some of the ignored aspects of increased crime, a link to a recent article in the Atlantic magazine is provided. The article, entitled The Crime Spike Is No Mystery by Patrick Sharkey, the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

For substantial additional historical information, a link to the Kerner Commission Report is provided. Entitled Report of The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, it was published February 29, 1968. This report, now more than 50 years old, was suppressed because its findings were hugely unpopular and very difficult for politicians in the United States to talk about or accept at that time. It honestly addressed the root causes for the civil disorders that erupted in1967.

Crime in our city will not be successfully addressed by putting more police officers on the streets or more people in jails. This approach either ignores altogether or minimizes the social factors in Freeport that have led to the increase in crime in our city. The attempt to address an extremely complex issue like crime, that has been generations in the making, requires complex solutions. Any solution must include an acknowledgment of the long-simmering societal root causes of criminal behavior. Once identified, the work to address those causes will require significant joint efforts by citizens and all appropriate departments of the municipality if progress is to be made for the benefit of the community.

Many constituents in Freeport are very concerned about crime in the community. As a result, Patrick Sellers, Freeport Township Supervisor, in his role as a private citizen, has developed a Crime Reduction Plan with possible strategies to make progress in addressing Freeport crime. The plan encompasses multiple and specific topic areas to be examined and potentially addressed by the city and its departments (Community Development, Police Department), Freeport landlords, Community Assistance Agencies and finally, community member support and engagement.

A group of local citizens, driven by their interest in addressing crime and in support of this effort initiated by Patrick, have become involved with the initiative in an active effort to engage current city leadership in an issue of critical importance to many of their constituents. The launch of a collaborative effort such as this would be a win in many ways…for the citizens who value public safety, for potentially improved economic development in the area, reduced dependence on law enforcement and, finally, an improved public image for the city of Freeport.

Karl Bronn
December 9, 2022