I’ve written time and time again about how this city, with all its redeeming qualities, could be a world-class destination for businesses and travelers and tourists with a few major changes of attitude and outlook. I’ve lamented the deaths of citizens and police, swept up and devoured by the culture of violence in the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve criticized the many ideas and proposals meant to stem the epidemic of violent crime, and while I have repeatedly said that the answer lies not in the easy excuses of gun control and related legislation but in rebuilding the relationship between police and citizenry, I never had any feeling that the powers that be understood what needed to be done.
Police in crime-ravaged West Philadelphia are giving out “positive tickets,” vouchers for free pizza or free water ice or other rewards, for doing good deeds. Cleaning up, holding the door for elderly neighbors, helping up in the house and around the neighborhood will be rewarded.
I think it’s great. Not only will it show kids which kind of behavior is preferred, it might just create a positive discourse between two factions which have been separated by inherent distrust. Police will now be seen in a different light, in a role that doesn’t include hiding behind flashing lights and a windshield. As a result, the men and women in blue may see more cooperation, and some of the rougher citizens might think twice about shooting a cop.
It’s all about the people here. The violence stems from a thug mentality, and it is perpetuated by that inherent distrust of law enforcement. Preventing further violence, then, depends upon bridging that gap between people and police. It can be done, and it must be done.
I heard, on last night’s local news, that similar measures and programs in Canada reduced violent crime by 41 percent. It might not have the same effect here, but it is certainly worth a shot.