I recently read an article about Chicago's community policing program, the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. As I had previously lived in Chicago, the article caught my interest. The article in the Sun Times suggested that funding cuts by Mayor Daley would end the 15-year-old program. What struck me most were not the words in the article, but the words in a blog I came across. The blogger suggested that it was time to let the police do their jobs, save the tax payers' money, and get back to the basics.
The words "get back to the basics" have since stuck in my mind. What are the basics of crime prevention? Is it getting involved in keeping our communities, families, and children safe? Is it making sure that all citizens—senior citizens and youth included—play a role in crime prevention? Is it asking our political representatives for more money for more police to patrol our streets? What if we choose not to get involved in keeping our neighborhoods safe and, as the blogger suggested, just "let the police do their jobs"?
As we count down the days to November 4, this reminder about getting back to the basics seems especially significant. According to the National Student/Parent Mock Election website, America has the lowest rate of voter participation of any of the world's democracies. What are the basics of democracy? We all know well the words of the Preamble to the Constitution often quoted by Abraham Lincoln—government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is sometimes hard to believe the old adage that every vote counts. Just as it is much easier to leave the responsibility for the future of our country in the hands of others, some prefer to leave the safety of their community in the hands of the police. It is certainly easier.
But the key to democracy, like crime prevention, is participation. Throughout history, changes have been made because of those who organized, and joined hands and voices, to fight injustice, to create freedom. Many have died to give us this right, this freedom that we take for granted. While we have this right, our freedom requires that we make a choice—to participate or leave the decision in the hands of someone else.
Organized neighbors make safe neighborhoods and organized participation rights wrongs and transforms injustice into freedom for us all. As we near the end of Crime Prevention Month and quickly approach election day, remember that your participation does make a difference. It is a responsibility that many have fought for, died for, and still do not have. Whatever your party affiliation, participate in our organized freedom. Let your voice be heard. Vote on November 4th.
For more information and to register to vote in the National Student/Parent Mock Election, go to nationalmockelection.org. For more information about crime prevention and how you can get involved, visit www.ncpc.org. To read the article on Chicago's community policing strategy, see the Sun Times article.