Check this gun control propaganda filth out. Zero Tolerance showing positive resultshttp://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080313/NEWS01/803130352/1002/NEWS
Stephanie Veale • Staff writer • March 13, 2008
Zero Tolerance, an initiative rooted in big-city crime-fighting tactics, has received mixed reviews from neighborhood residents and praise from many city leaders in the five months since it began.
The initiative is part of a nationwide trend toward more intense community policing, department officials and experts say. The Police Department credits Zero Tolerance with helping reduce the number of homicides by about 45 percent since its inception, compared with the same time frame last year.
Zero Tolerance is not a trend or a temporary fix for the city's violent crime problem, but a policing philosophy designed to last, Chief David Moore has said. The initiative is no longer tied solely to police working long hours on overtime pay.
Phase II, which began in mid-January, relies on some overtime but also on the reassignment of officers to street patrols, creating a visible presence on the streets.
The program works by discouraging criminals from carrying guns and by changing the perceptions of criminals and residents. Officers are enforcing everything from cell phone laws to taillight infractions.
Criminals are supposed to feel as though they could be caught in illegal activity at any moment, said Executive Deputy Chief George Markert. They may start to worry that they'll be pulled over for a minor traffic violation and get caught with an illegal weapon.
"Word gets around that if you're carrying a gun on Clifford and Hudson, chances are the police will stop you," said John Klofas, a criminal justice professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Klofas has been working with the city on Zero Tolerance research. "So (the criminals) leave the gun at home. When they do get into a confrontation, it's not going to wind up as a lethal confrontation."
In addition, law-abiding residents should feel safer and more empowered due to the increased police presence, Markert said.
The statistics point to some success. Between Oct. 5, 2006, and March 2, 2007, the city recorded 24 homicides. Between Oct. 5, 2007, when Zero Tolerance got under way, through March 2, the city recorded 13 homicides.
Since Jan. 1, Rochester has had four homicides, including the Feb. 19 shooting deaths of two 15-year-old boys in northeast Rochester.
Moore says there's still much work to be done.
Lessons from N.Y.C.
Cities across the United States, including Indianapolis, Boston and New York, have employed strategies similar to Zero Tolerance to lower crime rates, Klofas said. In New York City, authorities began a Zero Tolerance-like initiative in the early 1990s. Police increased their presence and cracked down on relatively harmless activity such as turnstile jumping and loitering.
This type of policing, along with other efforts, has led to a massive decrease in homicides in New York City. In 2007, the number of homicides dropped below 500 for the first time in 44 years. In 1990, the city recorded more than 2,000 homicides.
The theory driving these initiatives is that criminals who commit big crimes also commit small crimes and violations, said Jack McDevitt, associate dean in the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston.
The most effective programs are narrowly tailored to target a community's real troublemakers, trapping the fewest number of law-abiding citizens, he said.
"Lots of people who speed aren't involved in gang or gun violence," McDevitt said. "Communities of color and poor communities tend to bear the brunt of some of these efforts."
To minimize negative effects of aggressive policing, officers should communicate as much as possible with the neighborhoods they serve to figure out who's causing problems. That way, they can home in on the relatively small group of individuals involved in violent drug- or gang-related behavior, McDevitt said.
Despite the drop in Rochester homicides, public feelings toward Zero Tolerance range from support to skepticism to bitter opposition. Distrust continues to fester among much of the city's youth and other residents.
The suspicion was evident at a recent anti-violence forum held at Baber A.M.E. Church, days after Da'Marri Shaw and Brent Coley, both 15, were gunned down on Wilkins Street last month. People at the forum accused police of treating them with disrespect, of racially profiling them and of pulling them over on their own streets for no reason.
The Rev. Marlowe Washington, pastor at Baber and one of the organizers of the city's "You Bet I Told" movement, said he appreciates what Zero Tolerance has done to reduce violence. But he believes the Police Department should shift its attention to the city's drug houses.
The aggressive nature of Zero Tolerance is driving feelings of suspicion in certain neighborhoods, he said.
"Zero Tolerance is a way of regaining control of civility in the streets," he said. "I don't think it should be a prolonged initiative."
Tamra Jones of Rochester is among the Zero Tolerance critics. The 16-year-old is a member of Youth Voice, One Vision, a countywide youth council.
Jones said many young people don't trust police, sometimes with good reason. "It seems like they're using stereotypes to figure out what people they're going to arrest," she said.
In December, Jones and her three brothers were walking home along Sawyer Street about 7 p.m. when a police officer stopped them. The officer began questioning them for no apparent reason, Jones said. He wanted to know why they were all wearing black.
"It's not like we were running around being loud," Jones said. "We were wearing (black) coats. You telling us we can't wear coats?"
Markert said the Police Department has received just three formal complaints since Zero Tolerance began. And Moore has encouraged people to talk to police if they feel they haven't been treated right.
"There's a natural suspicion in some of the neighborhoods that need us the most," he said.
Jones said she believes most police officers are probably good, just like most people who live in Rochester are good.
"A select few spoil the bunch," she says. "Police officers and the youth don't have an understanding, and that's one thing we need to establish in this city."STVEALE@DemocratandChronicle.com