If we were to do a reality check, is there a difference between how safe Tulsa really is and how safe citizens perceive themselves to be? If we are told every night, by every TV station during the first five minutes of news, about crime in the community, but you have never been a victim of crime yourself, do you still feel unsafe in Tulsa?
If one politician tells you that the crime stats show that it's on the decrease but another tells you it's on the rise, is one telling you the truth but the other just trying to make some political points by ignoring the truth?
These are the questions in Tulsa today as crime has taken center stage in the mayoral campaign. Crime is not really just an election issue. Crime is with us all the time, whether or not it's an election year. It seems as though it's only during campaigns that politicians suddenly have solutions that will make crime nonexistent.
The truth is, they don't have the answer. They might have a tested idea about how to reduce crime. Or they may want to return to some old tried and true methods of crime fighting. But in the end, some politicians just want to try and make us think they can make crime vanish. But crime will never vanish. We know it even if they don't.
Recently, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan made some good points when he discussed the recent rise in the crime of homicide. He pointed out that the majority of killings come from specific types of situations where the individuals have made some bad decisions. In Tulsa, we've had 54 homicides this year. However, if you look at what makes up that number it isn't as daunting as it may seem. An overview of the homicides so far in 2013 shows that the killings resulting from drug deals going bad account for eight of the killings, 18 were a result of altercations (many of which involved alcohol), and nearly 10 of the killings were tied to either robberies or were gang related.
It's hard for the community to be concerned about the number of homicides when it's gang members killing gang members. When you think about it, who's really complaining about that? Those deaths are certainly a loss to the families of the fallen gang member, but is it actually a loss to the community? It sounds like good public safety work being done for the police by the gangs. Wiping out gangs is, after all, the focus of local law enforcement, and they can use all the help they can get. If the gangs want to kill each other, we certainly don't want to stop them. This is a callous, but true, assessment of the situation. The sad part of these gang-on-gang shootings are the innocents who end up being killed in cross-fire and drive-by shootings.
This is an issue that the police cannot control. Only early parental involvement is going to stop young people for looking for a "family" in the form of a gang. And until parents realize this, one generation of gang members will be replaced by the next and the next. Now solving that problem would TRULY be fighting crime. But that issue is for another story.
Another crime statistic is where someone attempts to break into someone's home and the property owner defends himself by killing the intruder. Again, another act of wiping out crime and helping the local police. That type of killing shouldn't be looked upon as a negative. The homicides so far this year for robberies came in at six, which, added to the other statistics listed, means 65 percent of the deaths were avoidable if the victims of these deaths had made the proper choices in life. It should be looked upon as sending the message to others who might have the same deadly plan: Some stupid decisions can get you killed.
Like the gang related and home invasion killings, the eight people killed in drug related deaths are people who have made death wish choices in the life styles they have chosen. They live by the sword and they die by the sword.
So, at the end of the day, when you take out the drug killings, gang killings, alcohol-related killings and home invasion killings, for a city of almost 400,000 people, our homicide rate is one of the lowest in the nation.
The city recently conducted its second citizens survey. Hundreds of citizens participated. Not surprisingly, most feel safe in their neighborhoods and have never been a victim of a crime. Most would like more public safety education. Many have a Neighborhood Watch program and understand how to use the 911 system. From the survey, when asked about their overall feeling of safety in the City, 46 percent said they had an excellent or good feeling about being safe in the city. About 26 percent were neutral, which is a hard response to analyze, because you would think everybody would have an opinion on this issue. And 28 percent said they had a below average or poor feeling of safety in the city.
Beyond just the crime stats and public perception of public safety in Tulsa, there is the important notion of what the citizens believe should be done to make Tulsa safer or, at the very least, make them feel safer in Tulsa.
Citizens want to see more public safety education programs. People want to know more about how to protect themselves, their property, and their city. Most people are good at this already. Sadly parents have had to learn that they have to be on alert at all times regarding where their children are, who they are with, what they are doing, and who's hanging around them.
Citizens want there to be more visibility of police officers, especially in the neighborhoods. Right or wrong, citizens believe if they see the police then things must be safe and peaceful. That's one reason why the city allows police officers to take their cars home with them if they live in the Tulsa city limits. A police cruiser in the driveway is seen as a deterrent.
Having a safe and secure community doesn't start with the city of Tulsa government, the mayor, or the police. It starts with every citizen being responsible. It starts with each of us taking and making the right choices and decisions. It starts by looking out for your neighbor, just as you hope he would look out for you.
In this mayoral campaign, people shouldn't let candidates scare them into thinking that one person as the mayor allows crime to exist and another person as the mayor will wipe out crime. Both are false and misleading statements. Mayors are professional talkers, not professional cops. Let's leave the job to the professionals.
Share this article: