Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CRIME SOLVERS : Gingrich and Gutknecht

Identifying the obvious : Gutknecht learns from Gingrich

Gil Gutknecht adds a footnote concerning Iraq on his weekly eline :
“NOTE: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich said last week that one of the true measures of progress should be the number of unemployed males under 30. He's right. The lower that number, the smaller the pool of recruits for militants.”

Insightful analysis ? Hardly. Gutknecht almost sounds giddy, praising his mentor as if these words of wisdom had never been spoken before. Heck, John Murtha in his November 2005 press conference cited the high unemployment in Iraq as one of the main problems … as well as other aspects of the failure of the Iraqi Reconstruction program.

But let’s accept it as a monitoring metric. The Brookings Institute monitors the Iraqi Reconstruction program and has reported the nationwide unemployment to be between 25-40% which in essence is where it has been since January 2005. The Iraqi Ministry of Planning states a 30% unemployment rate, whereas the Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs claims it to be 48%.

Unfortunately, Gutknecht only identifies the metric but offers no proposal for how to increase employment.

Solving Iraq may be impossible, but how is Congress addressing this subject at home?

Should the same metric– the lower the number of unemployed, the lower the crime rate- be used to address US crime?
The National Association of Chiefs of Police is reporting that the 2005 Uniform Crime Report issued annually by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicate an increase in violent crime.
Statistics provided in Crime in the United States, 2005, include:
* Nationwide in 2005, there were an estimated 1,390,695 violent crimes reported.
* The estimated volume of robbery increased 3.9 percent, murder and nonnegligent manslaughter increased 3.4 percent, and aggravated assault increased 1.8 percent from 2004 figures.
* Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) lost an estimated $16.5 billion: $7.6 billion in motor vehicle thefts, $5.2 billion as a result of larceny-thefts, and $3.7 billion in burglaries.

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said the recent increases in violent offenses could reflect a convergence of factors: a rise in gang membership, the spread of highly addictive methamphetamine and the increasing numbers of young people who are 18 to 24, the age group that generally commits the most crimes.

Several police officials who have complained that the U.S. government has allowed anti-crime initiatives to languish as it has focused on anti-terrorism efforts here and abroad. "This report should serve as a strong wake-up call," said Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske in Seattle, which recorded a 25% increase in gun-related crime last year. "We better realign our focus to the war going on in some of our cities." Edward Flynn, police commissioner in Springfield, Mass., said local police agencies have yet to recover from the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which led the federal government to redirect tens of millions of dollars in grants away from policing projects and toward homeland security programs. "Police can't be good homeland security partners if they cannot do their core missions," said Flynn, whose city of 155,000 had 18 homicides last year, double the number from 2000. "People need to see this as a sign for concern."

Mayors and police chiefs at a recent crime conference said they were seeing spikes in violent crime for 2006. They have called for greater support from federal law enforcement, expressing concern that the Bush administration might be too complacent. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated earlier this month that additional crime-fighting funds for cities were not in the offing, noting that the war on terror remains the greater priority.

The Bush administration has failed to build on the Clinton administration's success in funding more police through its COPS crime-control program.

Is it fair to ask Congress how to address unemployment, youth and crime? Is part of the equation the recognition that many policemen are currently serving as National Guard reservists in Iraq?

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