Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., instrumental in passing the Clinton administration program to hire 100,000 additional police officers, says more money for additional officers and resources — not a commission — is needed to drive down rising crime.Actually getting people together to figure out what works and then disseminate that information is extraordinarily useful. Commissions, either on crime or education, are programs I can really support. Instead of the Federal government passing a law that will almost certainly require them to meddle in local affairs, they produce a set of recommendations for what has worked in different areas. Local jurisdictions can adopt them or not (as they feel is appropriate). And the return on investment to the taxpayer is quite good.
"We don't need a commission to tell us what works," says Biden.
Want an example? A recent statistical analysis of the Brady Campaign's state-by-state gun control ratings show that they are completely detached from actual violent crime statistics. Or, in other words, gun control doesn't work. Wouldn't that have been nice to know earlier?
Biden is right though, general recommendations from any commission are likely to be along the lines of lots of cops, lots of convictions, and lots of years in prison. Those things will certainly work, but isn't it also possible to have too many cops or the wrong kinds of cops? For instance, SWAT teams have been used to break into the homes of little old ladies or raid neighborhood card games in the last few years. Why? Largely to justify their existence to the tax payer. You have to wonder if there is a point of diminishing returns with some of these policies.
I have to wonder if we couldn't do better with a return to a more distributed approach to crime prevention. That is to say, instead of asking the federal or even local governments to get involved in the gritty details of our day to day lives, ask the citizens to get to know their neighbors and watch out for each other. Then empower them to defend themselves and each other with good laws that favor the innocent instead of the criminals. You just can't spend enough government money to protect everyone, but if you create a climate of individual empowerment where many people will spend their own money to protect themselves.