Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Supporting Our Youth

The recent violence around the globe and particularly close to home has Plainfielders wondering about our safety.  Even more worrisome are recent shooting deaths of young people.  This is not unique to our city but it is happening here and elected officials have a responsibility to take necessary steps to stem the tide.

Perhaps the best place to start is with what not to do.  We don't want to spend time, energy and money on fixing what is not broken.  That is our Police Division.  In other cities, an investigation into the police could be an appropriate step to respond to allegations of discrimation but Plainfield already has a police force that is demographically reflective of our city.  The exception is being solved as we are currently bringing more Latino officers onboard. 

The City Council heard a detailed report on police division efforts to implement best practices using an accreditation process.  Our police are not profiling suspects or writing superfluous traffic tickets to African American motorists, as we continually see from a neighboring police force.  While there is always room for improvement, I feel confident saying we have an exemplary police force with excellent leadership.  They need our support as every day they are putting themselves in harms way to protect us.

What we should do is take a multi-faceted approach to community development.  More and better educational and job training opportunities for young people, mentoring, recreational programs, re-entry services and jobs for people returning from the criminal justice system.  There are dedicated Plainfielders making valuable contributions on each of these fronts.  But in our city, with limited resources, what we have most of is human capital.  We need more of it and more coordination of it.  That takes leadership, perhaps the ingredient most needed. 

Our mayor, Adrian Mapp, has taken some creative approaches to the challenge of supporting our youth.  We need to support the youth summit that is being planned.   When local politics divides us, we need strong voices to stay positive and focused on problem solving,  I .think it was our mayor, who said, at Eric Watsons funeral: "do something for the community - you don't need to take credit for it - you know you did it - that should be enough".

No comments: