Sunday, December 28, 2008

preventing crime, solving crime, experiencing crime

Preventing Crime

The worst thing about the sad story of Juan Fernando Gomez, who apparently has the misfortune of sharing a name with somebody who is on the US government's watch list and is ALWAYS pulled over at airports when he arrives in the US, is his concluding paragraph:

I heard rumors that the Terrorist Screening Center watch list would hit 1 million people by the end of 2008, but the TSA Web site states that the real number is actually closer to 400,000 and that there are fewer than 16,000 people on the "selectee" and "no-fly" lists used by the TSA. The site also asks, "Got Feedback?" Well, I have plenty of feedback, but I'm a little scared of the consequences of saying what I really feel.

It is bad that a guy like Gomez is afraid to give feedback. Watch lists are a sad but probably necessary part of modern life in the US. But first, the Feds have to get smarter about how they make and use the lists - we've all heard the stories about Senator Ted Kennedy being stopped frequently (must share a name with an Irish Republican Army member), or about four-year-old kids with common Arabic names being pulled aside for a closer look. That's bad. It's bad that the government won't even tell people why they are being given the extra scrutiny, though most of us can guess. But to be so intimidating and inflexible that a guy like Gomez - who is an international consultant working on Afghanistan and Pakistan - is afraid to give feedback is really stupid.

Solving Crime

Or not. They're getting away with murder. I don't mean the de facto Bush Administration, I mean actually murderers. Over 40% of cases in urban areas aren't being solved. Not reassuring.

Experiencing Crime

But this is one crime that will be solved easily. James Spruill and his family were seized at gunpoint, then forced into a car to go rob a bank. Spruill kept his cool, noticed a police car, swerved and got the cop's attention, and when the cop (with the excellent name of Barrington Cameron) walked up to the car, Spruill grabbed the gunman. That takes nerve!

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