Questions about mayor’s plan
March 13, 2015 at 12:14 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2015 at 12:15 p.m.
In fairness, I did not attend Mayor Dean's press conference the other day when he laid out his plan to combat the increased death rate in our city. I did talk to some who were there and have read all the reports in the LNJ, which I am assuming were complete and accurate. I am left with a few impressions that I must share.
With the exception of District 3 councilwoman Williams, I found no mention of community leaders from the region of our city most affected by the recent murders. I know that within that district there are many leaders, faith based and otherwise, that are deeply concerned about what has happened in our city. Perhaps they were there, but if so it was not mentioned in any reports I read and were not interviewed by the News-Journal. Were they not contacted? Did they think that their presence was not welcome? Were they, perhaps, not confident that they would hear anything new coming from City Hall? Frankly, I don't know.
It was interesting that the first response listed my Mayor Dean involved increased police presence. Is that the action that the citizens want to hear and see? If that plan was adopted after discussions with the community, then well and good. If not, again I have to wonder.
The next thing that jumped out to me was the use of the term "they" when Mayor Dean referenced the citizens of that part of our town. Is it, in fact, a case of them and us as the mayor seems to indicate?
A recent effort to help young people understand the interactions between the police and citizens had to be moved from a city site to a different location. Why was that? Surely anything that is intended to increase the confidence and understanding between citizens and the police force is something the officials of Longview would embrace. So why was it changed from a city site to another venue?
I applaud Mayor Dean's desire to take action. As a lame duck mayor, he could very well have waited until after the city elections, the fact that he has decided to take action is to his credit. My questions are not to his motive, but to his methods. If the biggest complaint the police and City Hall has is about policing in the areas concerned, will increased financial rewards and increased police presence be enough? Wouldn't a very visible partnership with community leaders and the city officials produce the kind of results needed to stem the increase in murders? And lead to more arrests of the perpetrators? Perhaps it will, I certainly hope so, but remember, when the reports of murders in Longview are printed, or reported outside our community, the only description is "Longview". No one in any other part of our state knows the city's neighborhoods or districts. They only know that people are being murdered in Longview at an increased rate. That makes it a "we" problem.