Technology is essential to reducing crime. Law enforcement can’t do it alone

If we don’t invest in public safety initiatives that include better tools and technology for law enforcement, our neighborhoods will continue to be riddled with crime and violence.

SHARE Technology is essential to reducing crime. Law enforcement can’t do it alone
The 16th District Chicago police station in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

The 16th District Chicago police station in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A battle is brewing among Chicago officials and the news media over whether to encrypt police radio traffic or continue to make it available to the public. No matter which side of the debate you’re on, I believe there are two issues we can agree on when it comes to solving Chicago’s violent crime epidemic: Technology is essential in reducing crime, and law enforcement can’t do it alone.

Making our blocks safer starts with forging stronger partnerships and shared respect between the community, police and elected officials. I’m a proud member of the Safe Streets Chicago Coalition. We are students, educators, community leaders and public safety advocates who know our blocks and our neighbors better than anyone. We know something about what our communities need to be safer. These are the streets we grew up on — where we live and where our families go to work.

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But we can’t solve this problem with relationships alone. If we don’t invest in public safety initiatives that include better tools and technology for law enforcement, our neighborhoods will continue being riddled with crime and violence. Tools like cameras, gunshot detection systems and the use of helicopters must figure into the city’s strategy.

It’s not fair that people are scared to drive to work because of carjackings or afraid to take the CTA for fear of becoming the next crime statistic. Our children shouldn’t have to worry about being shot walking to and from school.

As a school principal, I’ve witnessed enough. We must prioritize public safety by doing something about it. We need decisive action, like investments in concrete initiatives and tools that will get the job done. Our families and students deserve nothing less.

Roni-Nicole Facen, co-founder, Safe Streets Chicago Coalition

It’s not just guns

By now, most Americans should be aware there are too many guns in our country and too many people willing to use them. What needs to be asked, however, is why anyone would want to use one to rob or kill someone else.

There is something with the way some people are brought up that may contribute significantly to the problem. We hear a lot about a lack of opportunities, yet Chicago has a minority mayor, police chief, fire chief, key members of the City Council and Congress, not to mention business leaders and TV personalities. They weren’t all raised in neighborhoods of affluence.

The difference in many cases may be that successful adults are likely to have been brought up in stable households. They learned how to treat others by observing the way their parents acted toward each other and encouraged their children when they tried their best in activities at home or at school, rather than berating them for every misstep. How late a child might stay out, and who they spend time with, should always be a concern. If there is no father in the picture, the outlook can be challenging for girls as well as boys.

Children of well-off parents would have access to guns if it were just a matter of being able to buy one. They also are likely to have antagonists at school or somewhere else they might want to fight with, but they aren’t likely to settle their arguments with a gun. They know it would threaten the likelihood of any future success if they chose to use one.

J.L. Stern, Highland Park

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