Mark Cohen, a criminal defense/civil litigation lawyer and Oakland resident, penned an op-ed piece for Oakland Tribune today. Simply titled "I live a middle class life and I am scared to live in Oakland," it's certain to jostle recent transplants fro SF to Oakland, as well as the book-sniffing chin-scratchers that plague comments sections.
In part, he writes:
An underlying fear of crime is a constant with my Oakland actions. Before I depart in the morning, I peer out my living room window, making sure my car hasn't been stolen during the night. When I exit my home, I take a cautionary look around, as I know it's prudent to be certain that no one is lying in wait. And when I come home at a dark hour, I case my own block with apprehension and exit my car with astute caution.
Cohen admits that, while he's "neither paranoid nor Republican," he and his middle-class neighbors have an objectively reasonable basis for this fear" -- i.e., robberies at gunpoint, theft, and worse.
It is an absolute myth that the answer is more police, just as it is a myth that more money for social programs holds the solution. It is an absolute myth that tougher judges and prosecutors, along with longer prison terms have any long-term effect on crime.
These approaches are nonsense and represent nothing more than self-interested political platforms designed to pander to our fears and our hearts (bleeding or otherwise). That is why I say as a liberal Democrat, that I am equally tired of being asked to pay higher taxes for more police and social programs when I know that these approaches don't work. Accordingly, I won't support such new taxes nor politicians who so advocate.
His solution -- via Don't Shoot by David Kennedy, a criminology professor at New York's John Jay School of Criminal Justice -- is a melange of "community and religious leaders, crime victims and their families, police, federal and county prosecutors, probation officers, social workers, and private enterprise." Which is to say, an entire overhaul of the No. 3 crime capital in the U.S.
Read the piece in its entirety at Oakland Tribune.