Beware the Knee Jerk

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Back in the summer, when the mayoral candidates were arguing about police protection in the city, I argued that people ought to look at the proposals and judge whether or not they were worth doing.

Remember how Norwood called for scrapping the police reorganization – which sounded good until you looked at the reasons behind it. Duffy, the former police chief, said that it helped the department be more flexible and it also helped them keep down overtime costs.

I said that people need to examine whether the medicine can really be the cure… and what the side-effects might be.

I applied the same logic to John Parrinello’s call for "a (police) car and a spotlight on every drug house in the city." That, I wrote, would mean plenty of extra cops, with extra expense.

Then I leaned on Mayor Bill Johnson. He mentioned – and this was back in June – that some people wanted a curfew. "I like the romantic idea of a curfew," Johnson said then. "But the curfew has to be enforced. That means you have to have police officers out on the street." Then he wondered where the city police would deposit the kids who are out past curfew but are driven to house without parents. Most of them are on the street to begin with because of no parental guidance.

"Many cities have to creating holding centers for those kids," he said.

So now, with ministers and elected officials resurrecting the curfew as a way to curb youth violence, doesn’t it behoove us to ask: Is this medicine really the cure?