Most police officials, with some exceptions, are identified with the conservatives or the “individual responsibility” school of thought. George L. Kelling contended that the relationship between socioeconomic conditions and crime is too complicated to categorically blame poverty as a single cause of crime. A former adviser to William J.
Bratton who once headed the transit police of New York, Kelling specifically stated that “Unemployment in some neighborhoods could cause crime to increase… But in other neighborhoods, where people who worked in the auto industry have been laid off, you now have guardians in the neighborhood — crime decreases, homes are not going to be burglarized. ” Thus, Kelling argued, poor people who are responsible enough successfully avoided resorting to crime.
This idea got the support of Chief Tim Dolan of Minneapolis who observed that in spite of their being very poor, most first-generation immigrant workers showed a general tendency to respect the law. Children of immigrants who were born in the country did not have the same attitudes, according to Dolan. He said that when it came to second generation immigrants, “We’ll see some crime if they’re stuck in those lower-income areas” (Katel, 2008). The liberals who subscribe to the “root cause” school of thought include community activists among their ranks.
They believe that in order to solve the problem, it should be attacked at its roots because crime has been observed to run strongest in neighborhoods characterized by poverty where majority of the population belong to racial minorities. Andrew Karmen, a sociologist by profession and who works at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that improving the lives of such people would help reduce crime. One way of improving their lives, according to him, is by making higher education accessible to them.
He supported his argument by citing a finding that in 1989, only 8 percent of reported murder victims in New York were able to attend college, hinting that college-educated individuals generally shy away from criminal situations (Katel, 2008). Even David Mulhausen, who was identified as a conservative being a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation which is a conservative organization, has uncharacteristically agreed that dysfunctional families and “failing schools” cause young people to drift into a life of crime.
He explained that he was drawn into such a conclusion because of an observation that the cities with consistently high rates of violent crime have considerable numbers of poverty-stricken African-Americans. Some of these places are New Orleans, Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, and Baltimore (Katel, 2008). More and more people believe that the availability of guns is the single contributory factor to the rise of violent crimes. They argue, therefore, that reducing the number of guns in people’s hands should correspondingly reduce crime.
What happened in New York, where crime rate dropped after police started going after illegal gunholders was frequently cited. PERF had interviewed 56 sheriffs and police chiefs in 2007. More than 50 percent of them said that gun availability was one of the main causes of violent crimes. The statement made by Garry McCarthy, Newark, New Jersey police director, reflected this sentiment. ”We need to talk about national policies with guns, because that’s what’s killing inner-city youths today.