The Right Way to Fight Crime

 by Tommy Davis

Email: tommy@flowercitychaplains.org

Every year in the City of Rochester, the warmer months somehow triggers a spike in violent crime.  This seems to be the pattern; and if we are honest with ourselves, violence is normally anticipated.  The community often sends mixed messages when law enforcement increases efforts to combat vice within our neighborhoods.  Residents who are displeased with police operations and verbalize such criticisms unwittingly create an atmosphere where criminals feel comfortable offending.   Police officers that lose confidence in crime reduction will not take the extra effort to assist citizens experiencing distress.  One thing is for sure, the goal of any crime fighting initiative is to eliminate violent behavior.

To begin with, we must be straightforward about the root causes of hostility that seems to be persistent in the black American community.  In the United States, homicide is the number one cause of death for black men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-nine.[i]  Equally grim is the fact that ninety-four percent of all black people who are murdered are killed by other black people.[ii]  Those affected by these traumatic events are correspondingly obligated to participate in traumatic reduction.  Fatherless homes, weak religious objectives, a distrust of police, and dismal educational instruction contribute to the disorder so concentrated in our inner cities.

Criminality can only survive when there are incentives involved where it is taking place.  I had my personal share of delinquency as a teenager; and during my time of ignorance, I targeted areas where there was least resistance.  It wasn’t until the community stepped up and made me realize that I was not going to benefit from their hard earned resources that I eventually changed my mind about crime.  I had more of a reason to become a responsible and fiscally productive citizen.

The psychology of the criminal has not changed.  In fact, numerous of studies have concluded that criminals are very rational.  According to Dr. Thomas Sowell, an economist at Stanford University,  “The career criminal cannot simply be dismissed as irrational, because there is too much evidence from too many countries that he is indeed quite rational.[iii]

Part of the mission of the Flower City Chaplain Corps is to increase community participation relative to crime prevention, and work with law enforcement agencies to create an atmosphere counterproductive to illegal activity.  We understand that citizens have a level of tolerance and concern.  We also comprehend the significance of law enforcement.   Therefore, our mission is to promote and contribute to healthy solutions which include seeking redemptive qualities in offenders that are prevented from further offending.

Simply put, citizens must team with government rather than delinquents in an effort to establish tranquility in our region.  This includes identifying criminals and cooperating with investigators so that the proper arrests can be made.  Chaplains sometimes serve as liaisons between frightened citizens and enthusiastic detectives who are determined to acquire the satisfactory evidence before embarking on apprehension attempts.  Criminals sometimes surrender themselves in the presence of a chaplain.

In addition to these ideas our community would also do well to advocate agendas that would assist former offenders returning to our city.  As a full-time jail chaplain employed by Good News Jail & Prison Ministry, seeing a former inmate return to jail means there are new victims he left behind.  Sanctions are needed, but restoration is a key ingredient which is the goal of corrections.   If we are to reinstate the civility in our schools, neighborhoods, and understanding as it relates to law enforcement agencies, informed civic engagement is necessary to accomplish this end.


[i] Poussaint, Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

[ii] Ibid, p. 9

[iii] Sowell, Thomas. The Thomas Sowell Reader. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

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