Patrick Sharkey on Police and Violence

Patrick Sharkey has some insightful things to say about policing and violence. He notes that violence is devastating to a community, that more policing can reduce violence, but that alternatives to traditional policing also can reduce violence. He writes, “Every shooting in a neighborhood affects children’s sleep and their ability to focus and learn. When a neighborhood becomes violent, it begins to fall apart. . . . One of the most robust, most uncomfortable findings in criminology is that putting more officers on the street leads to less violent crime.” Yet: “Decades of criminological theory and growing evidence demonstrate that residents and local organizations can indeed ‘police’ their own neighborhoods and control violence — in a way that builds stronger communities.” He’s not talking about vigilantism, but things like after-school programs, summer jobs programs, and community gardens. He envisions government funding community groups to hire “conflict mediators, violence interrupters, youth outreach teams, case workers, mental health counselors, crisis response teams, maintenance and beautification crews, data analysts, liaisons to public agencies.”

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