Trenton is a city that faces a host of problems. Some have been cataloged on this blog but reading The Times of Trenton or The Trentonian on any given day will show you a variety of others. I’m going to do posts over the course of the next six weeks proposing solutions that aim to alleviate or eliminate Trenton’s six most pressing issues, in my opinion. Each of these posts will take a somewhat simplistic approach to very complicated problems but I find it important to share my thoughts and vent in the process. These suggestions will also be shared directly with individuals in positions of power in Trenton who may be able to implement my suggestions.
Trenton is not perceived as a safe city.
24 murders in 2011, 9 more than in 2010
Get Trenton’s total number of murders annually in the single digits.
(1) Hire and promote competent leadership in the police department.
Trenton’s new police director, Ralph Rivera, seems to be doing a good job on this front already. In the past two months (since he’s been in his position), I think there’s been only one murder in Trenton. As I’ve said before, in a city of our size with poverty and unemployment and city schools in the predicament they’re in, that’s remarkable. Hopefully Rivera is able to continue delivering on this. His ability to do so will partially lie in having competent people around him.
(2) Improve relationships with community members through increased visibility efforts such as encouraging officers to live in the district they police, walk a beat, and participate in local events.
Things like what I saw this morning (several White, armed cops across the street from my house) do not engender positive relationships with poor/working class, majority-minority communities. Police have to change their relationship to and role in the community and it starts with presence. If every time we see police they’re either showing extreme force, arresting someone, or staring at us in their car ready to do either of those things then “protect & serve” is a foreign concept. Policing should be a community effort of safety and responsibility rooted in mutual respect and understanding, not threat and intimidation.
(3) Facilitate career placement and residential re-location for convicts.
For many individuals who have been convicted on criminal charges, getting a job after their conviction is quite the difficult task. It’s compounded with the reality of usually going back to the same neighborhood where so many negative associations reside. Someone, ideally the city and police department in conjunction with businesses and educational institutions, needs to facilitate re-entry programs that place convicts in steady jobs, ideally in communities different from that in which they reside. The power of one’s socialization cannot be overstated. People in place like Wilbursection in East Trenton need to know that a place like John Henry House in Princeton exist.
Next Week: Educationblog comments powered by Disqus