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Build Rapport with the Impoverished to Combat Crime

In response to the recent article that highlighted the Kern County Sheriff Office's efforts to reduce crimes against persons, I'd like to point out that in 1994, researchers from the National Institute of Justice Policy Center located in Washington, D.C., defined vandalism as including

“graffiti, trash dumping, light smashing, removing/bending signage or ornamentation, breaking windows or another defacing of property.” (Scott, M. L., LaVigne, N. G., & PALMER, T. (2007).

Additionally, the research that they conducted in the early '90s supported the notion that the cause of vandalism is “often associated with other signs of social disorder such as disturbing the peace and trespassing.”

With economic development being a primary objective within local municipality government infrastructures around America, it’s no surprise that socially, and criminally deviant behaviors such as vandalism are burdensome to businesses but even more so traumatic to the individual who experiences the offense.

In order to begin to determine a suitable route toward the eventual elimination of the crime issue in city of Bakersfield, one would have to first examine the origin of the problem, and gain further insight in regard to the offender’s motives for engaging in the aforementioned criminally and socially deviant behavior. According to Peteet, criminally deviant behavior can be considered fundamentally as a byproduct of the juvenile subculture (1996).

However, studies have also shown that self-control and/or the lack thereof is also a contributing factor to why people engage in criminally deviant behavior and should be carefully distinguished from criminality.

The studies of Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi explain in their book “A General Theory of Crime” (1990; 88) that crime requires no special capabilities, needs, or motivation; they are available to everyone. They further suggest that some people have an enduring propensity to ignore the long-term consequences of their behavior, and such people tend to be impulsive, reckless and self-centered.

Moreover, Young and Jefferson-Smith (2000), for example, argue that the cumulative effects of poverty, racism and sexism experienced by many Black mothers will ultimately become the experiences of their children, thus creating a new generation of youth at risk. Studies have shown that maternal incarceration is the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior and imprisonment among children.

According to Shaw and McKay, the capacity of the community (family/social structure) to control group-level dynamics is a key mechanism linking community characteristics with delinquency. In fact, their research concluded that most gangs developed from unsupervised spontaneous play groups (Shaw and McKay 1942).

Therefore, the research and the literature could gently suggest that Kern County law enforcement leadership focus efforts to reduce crime on intervening and building rapport with the many children, adolescents and families from impoverished backgrounds as they're more likely to have social, academic and family experiences that not only affect their development, but can also encourage delinquent or criminal behavior (Cornell et al., 1999).

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