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“Going away party” for crime?

By Greg L | 26 July 2006 | Crime, Prince William County | No Comments

The Prince William County police department is holding a “National Night Out” event in Gainesville Saturday from 10AM to 2PM in order to apparently show criminals that citizens are being vigilant against criminal activity. Now last time I checked, “night” was usually defined as a period of darkness, and it certainly isn’t experienced between 10AM and 2PM. If this is supposed to send a message to the criminal element, it’s likely not a very powerful one.

I’m all for promoting crime and drug prevention awareness and giving citizens information on how they can play a part in keeping our communities safe, but this feel-good waste of taxpayer dollars will achieve nothing. Criminals are not impressed by moonbounces and raffles.

Only slightly more productive is the promotion of Tuesday night’s official “National Night Out” where for one evening citizens are encouraged to turn on their lights, lock their doors, and venture out into the evening air. It’s a symbolic gesture which is pretty useless, but it at least doesn’t spend a lot of taxpayer dollars.

I heard a story where Florida was offering free pistol marksmanship classes to women following a series of sexuall assaults, and the result there was actually effective. Just providing that training, and having hundreds of citizens participate scared the bejesus out of the criminal element, and assaults plummeted. If you want to send a message to the criminal element, something along the lines of “your potential victims are armed and know how to defend themselves” is a lot more effective than “one night a year we all walk around for an hour or so”.

If we’re going to spend taxpayer dollars sending messages to criminals, let’s be a little more deliberate about what that message is.



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