Could there be a greater waste of money than having a military or law enforcement and refusing to use them. The lawlessness in Baltimore is a case in point. Looting and attacks on police were allowed to proceed without much opposition on the mistaken idea that we have to let people let off steam before it escalates even further. How many times does this thinking have to backfire before we wake up and remember why we have law enforcement to maintain public order? Unless especially built as a political capitols such as Washington D.C. or Brasília, cities and towns exist to serve an economic purpose. This means you have to try to maintain your current businesses while attracting new ones to replace those that are lost or your town will die. This takes money and money goes where it is treated well. If you let people steal from your business community without consequence or worse letting them loot and then burn down a business, you’re not treating money with respect. Why would any person invest in expansion or start a new business under those conditions? More likely, if you own a business there you’d be looking to relocate where you’re treated better. Where these riots have taken place, they either slow to or never recover. Baltimore has been in decline ever since the MLK assassination riots. Knowing this history, how could a civic leader not protect their city’s lifeblood? Yet Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appears to have given stand down orders to the police in the face of rioting, looting and destruction. She claims to have taken numerous economic courses but seems to be unaware of the enormous harm this would do to the very people she claims to help. Makes you wonder what they are teaching at her Alma Mater Oberlin these days.
Some cities following New York City’s lead, instituted a “broken windows policy of policing” with a zero tolerance for rioters and looters. Arrest for any infractions before lawlessness spreads. This has come under attack as cruel and insensitive to inner city neighborhoods. Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiat writing after the Freddie Grey riots goes so far to say that “… it is also being seen as the apotheosis — and definitive repudiation — of a once high-flying theory of crime-fighting known as broken-windows or zero-tolerance policing.” Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani who brought this type of policing to that city commenting on riots said” that the way to stop a riot from developing is that you arrest the first person to throw a stone or break a window or put something on fire. You do not allow a cooling off or venting period.” Which type of policing actually contributes to the future health of the city?
Safety of person and property is absolutely essential to even be considered for real economic investment these people so desperately need. Say the International company Tang- Manstein (made up of course) wants to open some stores in the US. Who would be considered first ? Rawlings-Blake’s Baltimore or Giuliani’s New York? We all know the answer. Would Baltimore even be considered today. We may get a further test of policing theories if the charged policemen are found not guilty or are convicted of lesser charges. Will the City of Baltimore arrest the first rioter or let the City go?
You can pour the endless amounts of public funds into a lawless entity and you will never have progress. We can argue other policy steps, but this bedrock to civilization and progress. But don’t we need better trained quality cops? Maybe, but good luck recruiting them when they your police made to stand there and get hit in the head by bricks and concrete and not able to take action. We doubt if top candidates are going to line up for your police force.
Sadly, the consequences will extend beyond Baltimore to other communities with similar characteristics. In the face of high insurance rates and real fear of physical and economic harm, businesses simply won’t consider investing in these areas even though they’re the ones that desperately need it. How many businesses already there are now looking to move out of these communities . The owners will probably never voice their plans. On the surface they will continue to be community boosters right up until they’re no longer there. Detroit didn’t happen over night. It’s leaders hardly realized it was slowly bleeding to death. One has to wonder if they even are aware today. The question of whether a community will protect us and our property is simply is basic it’s survival as an entity. Thinking you can purchase a short term peace by failing to live up to basic commitments just doesn’t work and is purchased by giving up the future. It’s time to realize that no matter what the validity of the grievance, protests must be kept in legal bounds or you will do far more harm than good. Gandhi and Martin Luther King never lost sight of a better future, but stayed away from violence to people and property. They knew it it would discredit their purpose while hurting their people. Today’s leaders would do well by their constituents to remember this when faced with whether to maintain law and order. If they know you won’t fire, you’ve lost control and the future. In our next post we will show how this affects another important area.