Is the Suffolk Police Department Failing?

Anyone that pays attention to crime reports knows that violent crime continues to be a factor in the same Suffolk neighborhoods year after year. Is the Suffolk Police Department failing in its efforts to eliminate crime in these areas? Is the Suffolk City Government failing in its efforts? I don’t think so. Let me explain.

First off I need to say that many Suffolk citizens are going to be uncomfortable with discussing crime-ridden neighborhoods. We in Suffolk are no different from other Americans. We think such a discussion is labeling neighborhoods as “bad.” We come up with all sorts of euphemisms to put window dressing on realities. We call such places “underserved,” “concentrations of poverty,” or “working class neighborhoods.” Think about it. How many of us live in neighborhoods were people don’t work? This reflects one of our major challenges. Many want to believe in myths that cannot be supported by the realities around us.


Let us consider a couple of myths. For example Bill Clinton made history by promoting federal spending to put 1000 more police officers on the streets to fight violent crime. And watch typical TV police programs like “Criminal Minds” in which every episode ends with FBI agents in bullet proof vest rushing in with guns drawn to save the victim. Hour after hour TV news and fictional programming focus on police successes. How much reality is there in that?


Consider Samuel Walker’s book Sense and Nonsense about Crimes now in its seventh edition. His findings have been confirmed by a number of other criminologists. For example, consider page 121 of Gary Kleck’s book Point Blank. “Police officers rarely disrupt violent crimes or burglaries in progress; even the most professional and efficient urban police forces rarely can reach the scene of a crime soon enough to catch the criminal ‘in the act.’ More generally, the idea that modern police are so effective in controlling crime that they have rendered citizen self-protection obsolete is widely at variance with a large body of evidence that police activities have, at best, only very modest effects on crime.”

So how do we reduce crime and foster safety in our crime-ridden communities? We have to compare the crime-ridden neighborhoods with neighborhoods that experience little crime.

Square mile for square mile there is excessive taxpayer money spent in crime-ridden neighborhoods and very little spent in neighborhoods with little crime. There are few police officers in neighborhoods with little crime. Obviously it is not police and government spending that has reduced crime in areas with little crime. In neighborhoods with less crime there are many community-supported activities not funded by government often through churches and civic organizations. There is little call for more government spending; many actively-involved people want less government, not more. There are many avenues for community cooperation and little conflict among citizens. There is pride among citizens in their self-reliance and group accomplishments that make for a better place for all to live. There is a high concentration of people with concealed carry permits.

Our government and police are not failing. The failure is among the myth believers that continue to campaign for more programs that do not work and that promote government dependency. They need to see the realities around us and promote efforts that are successful and foster self-reliance among the people.

We are recognized by the IRS as a non-profit. Your generous donations will be tax deductible.

© By Joseph L. Bass, EdD and Barbara P. Starkey-Bass - 2016