The violent crime in Pensacola is escalating to a much more dangerous level. In 2009, I was writing about drive-by shootings. Shots were fired over crowds, few people were injured. In 2010 and 2011, people were shot and killed on the streets, in front of houses, in parking lots-but the homes were relatively safe.
Now they are kicking in doors, not caring who is in the house. They shoot people in front of their children, mothers, wives and girlfriends. Most of the victims are teens or twenty-somethings.
This is very troubling. Most murders and home invasions are happening in the poor neighborhoods, but how long before the attacks spill over into east Pensacola and more affluent areas?
As many commentators on this blog have written. These crimes have a multitude of causes – poverty, joblessness, public education failing to reach them, lack of fathers in the home, teenage mothers. We have to attack the issue on several fronts, using more than law enforcement.
Do we need more deputies and police on the streets?
Do we need more undercover operations to bust drug rings?
Do we need after-school programs for kids, especially for teens? Boys & Girl Club, more YMCAs, midnight basketball.
Do we need more Vocational training–not career academies–but welding, carpentry, plumbing, etc.?
Do we need more neighborhood watch groups? Bigger rewards for Crimestoppers?
Do we need to have a program to buy-back guns?
Do we need to retool the inner-city schools and be more creative in how we educate our minority students?
Economic development is the sexy issue for county commissioners, council members and mayors. There is a lot of fanfare long before any new job is delivered to the community.
Crime, not so much. No easy answers. No photo ops. Few quick solutions, primarily just temporary band-aids. However, it and its causes must be dealt with.