To combat violent crime in general and “gun violence” in specific, West Palm Beach Police and West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio are introducing what they’re calling “Neighborhood Enhancement Teams.” They’re talking about two five-member police squads working “24/7 with teenagers and gangs” to help “identify troubled youth and connect them with organizations that will help put them on a different path.” Less romantically, the cops will “patrol and monitor two square miles of West Palm Beach.” While there’s nothing wrong with the idea per se, the big question here is . . .

why the police? Isn’t this the kind of “outreach” program that educators, religious leaders, local businessmen and other concerned community members should be doing? When did cops become social workers? Not to mention: what are the odds of a bunch of cops turning around gang members and potential gang members by patrolling their ‘hood? A lot better than trying to reduce or eliminate the gangs’ “easy access to guns,” as the usual anti-gun suspect – Her Honor the Mayor – suggests. But not even close to good.

41 Responses to West Palm Beach Police Answer to Gang Violence: Cops as Social Workers

  1. “Isn’t this the kind of “outreach” program that educators, religious leaders, local businessmen and other concerned community members should be doing?”

    If those people existed in those communities, there almost certainly wouldn’t be a need for outreach.

  2. I have to agree police officers are not social workers they’ve got a big enough job on their hands as it is. I live in Florida and that is ridiculous waste of time energy and money. The only good I can see coming from this Is that the police now would least know the gang members on a first name basis so they know exactly how where and when to go and get them when they committed violent crime with a firearm or a baseball bat or whatever.

  3. Sounds like an episode of Adam-12.
    But I have to admit, Adam-12 and Emergency television shows kind of helped shape my life.
    I was a paramedic first and a cop second.
    So I kind of had that “help them” mind set going into every call.

    By the way- Rest in Peace Martin Milner.

  4. Actually, I am glad to see it. One more door out of gang life (especially from those portrayed by gangs as the bad guy). Let’s see a study of the possible successes or failures this brings.

    • Exactly. Clearly, the way we’re policing high-crime areas in big cities in America isn’t working. So try something else, and if it doesn’t work, try another something else until you find a solution to the problem, or at the very least, find a way to not keep making shit worse.

      • The police’s job is not to be social workers, it’s to enforce the laws. The problem is with the prosecutors and all their leniency Towards violent criminals and plead bargain deals to improve their Conviction rate. The cops know who the few bad apples are they arrest them on a regular basis The revolving door syndrome. If we would just lock them up And put them in prison for 25 years there would be no more violent crime from these individuals. Most of these kids that are actually committing the violent crime do so in a way that is unapproachable by social workers or police. There’s only a few bad apples like I said previous, But those bad apples ruin the entire community until they are picked And thrown away.

        • The problem with the “few bad apples” theory is that those bad apples came from somewhere. If you don’t figure out what’s making your apples go bad, then you’re going to keep having bad apples and not solve the root causes of your problem. Crime is like a disease. You can choose to just keep treating the symptoms, but you’re much better off in the long run if you try to find a cure. You’re right about the revolving door justice system being a problem, but it sure as heck ain’t the only problem.

    • Ditto, it feels silly, but hey if it saves a few lives a year and prevents a stylistically significant amount of crime -why not?

      They could say it like it will be, the cops are out on the beat. (Like the 60’s, no?)

    • Here’s what wil happen: when they fail (and they will fail), they’ll try to cook the books. When that’s exposed, they’ll circle the wagons in defense and demand an internal investigation. That will reveal an innocent, overworked clerk’s error as the root of all problems, which can only be rectified with more clerks, more funding, and more power.

    • I’m OK with trying it too. Seems to me we have a lot of folks hereabout pining for the days when Officer Friendly really was friendly, and involved in the life of the folks on his beat. But now we’re getting “cops aren’t supposed to be social workers”, and I admit I’m a bit nonplussed. And, as RF pointed out, at least this is directed at the root of the problem–gangs–instead of at gunz…

      • I have a feeling people who pine for ‘officer friendly’ are either thinking of a TV show or lived in a place very different than this one.

  5. All sarcasm aside, this is better than paying gang members to not do crime (Cali) or “reformed” criminals to act as defusers or whatever the official name is (several big cities).

    Seriously, at least this puts an alternate role model in front of the kids. Worth trying at any rate.

  6. It is an 18th century idea that people should just act right. Life is more complex. When we see in tight communes bound by strong ties that the “bad” is just hidden then that system doesn’t work.

    If my child never committed a crime and while in high school received a paid internship, what’s the problem. So some youth in the inner city get paid to one, stop doing criminal activity, report regularly to police and social work teams, and by example be an example for others, how’s different? They make less than they would gang banging but reasonable money. It costs us far less than policing methods.

    You have to realize there are literally no jobs. These kids have little experience outside of their neighborhoods. Go through college selection with a middle class youth and you will see the fears they have about going away to unknown situations.

    People do things for reward. Teens, young adults should be receiving some reward, pay, community approval, parent approval etc. These gang banging youths have already created organizations that have structure, reward, clients, distribution, strict rules, consequences for rule breaking. Sounds just like Wall Street…..uh no….the Govt bails them out after they take your 401K. Then they go on speaking tours.

    • That’s right.

      If they can’t be the victim, then they gotta victimize, cause opportunity ain’t just what your given, it’s what you take. If you can’t understand how or why others always seem to have more than you, and you don’t want to leave the 23 story building your family has spent 3 generations in, then you have to join together with a group of your peers that will make you feel the most comfortable with it until you or they get dead or go to prison. It’s the only way. The examples are in every major city.

    • As opposed to the government bailing them out after they rape your daughter and steal your TV? WTF is the difference? You’re training them they cannot do anything without the government.

  7. Broke di<k liberal evil house of (D) head blue sh_t to the rescue. If you can't have play nice time in West Palm, launch another dumba_ _ democrat scheme.

    At least they can justify some overtime post season.

  8. Who would make a better person to deal with gang members/potential gang members? Your choice is a) a social worker with a degree in social work filled with all the progressive nonsense that comes with that kind of training or b) a police officer who has an understanding of what’s going on and is not saddled by a dogma that views the target of the outreach as a victim.

    Have worked with too many social workers, I can say I don’t want a and would like to see if b might work better.

    • Bill,

      You bring up an important point. Furthermore, regardless of our position on the typical social worker’s mindset/politics, where can we point to repeatable success from social workers? I realize they are busy — do they actually help people turn their lives around in a major way most of the time? Some of the time? Rarely?

      And yet another consideration: if those gang infested areas are as rough/dangerous as I am imagining, it would be beyond foolish to send in one or two unarmed social workers to work with anyone. If they were women, the local gangs would probably want to rob and rape them. If the social workers were men, the local gangs would probably want to rob and kill them. Send in five armed veteran cops, on the other hand, and I suspect the local gangs would be a lot less interested in trying to rob and kill them.

    • Bill makes an excellent point. Social workers are just more PC nonsense that has not worked very well in most areas. Police doing this kind of job are probably going to be more realistic about the situation and they will be armed. So if they have issues they can protect themselves. I like the idea of the Cops walking a beat in these areas and getting to know the people.

    • It has been tried before. Again and again. The criminals don’t want to talk to police. The people who hang around criminals don’t want to talk to police.

      Social workers might not be the answer but at least it’s a moment when they- and the liberal-arts types in general (hey, I was there too at some point) can put up and actually try all their methods that they’re constantly saying will work if just given a shot. Put em out there and let them show us all what we’ve been doing wrong. Do I think it’ll work? Hell no. But at least it’ll provide a point to use when they talk about the police and justice system being part of the problem.

      Instead what we have sounds like a typical ‘impact/saturation’ patrol that will be in the same general area but we’re going to give it a nice squishy name for PR reasons and to explain the overtime. It might be useful insofar as it will tamp down on street crime with cops walking around but that’s nothing new.

  9. I’m good with this. Get police out of the cars, out of assault vehicles and into the community. Build some trust, know the players and be responsive. This is old fashioned, deck plate leadership and the country needs more of it. There is balance between bleeding heart and heavy handed. Do it right and it will succeed.

    • Thats what I was thinking. This kid of program would be essential for removing the widening devide between the police and the people. Police officers need to be a part of the vommunity they serve.

  10. It may not be successful for everyone, but it can have an impact. The problem is will they do it long enough for it to see results. If you get a person out of banging that effect can last generations. There will definitely be a cost to it, but think about this; every person who’s incarcerated costs something like $50K/year, and to add to that loss they’re not contributing to society. Everyone wants something that’s easy they can point to during the next election, which is why a lot of places default to things like gun control.

  11. Just like Starsky and Hutch back in the 70’s! Because, you know, they were hip. Just need the gangs to appoint a Huggy Bear and we’re all good.

    • It sounds a little like old fashioned policing…walking a beat and interacting with the community. Just wrapped up in a bunch of PC double speak.

    • Maybe it’s the money. Or maybe the type of people in your neck of the woods don’t have shirts reading “snitches get stitches.”

  12. I have no solution for gang violence, other than fight fire with fire. But I would think that if you forced parents to take responsibility for their children as they grew up, they’d be less inclined to join a gang. Make parents stand in front of a judge when their kid misses or disrupts class and you’ll go a long way towards ending gangs.

    • Parent fails to appear at court (kid learned it from them).

      Now what?

      Also: wtf TTAG? These “you’re posting too fast” things are annoying as shit.

  13. The is a family/community issue, not a police issue. Unless they plan to imbed these officers in single-parent homes 24-7, so they can take the place of absent fathers in helping raise these kids…good luck. Once these young men have reached their teens, they’ve already had a litany of poor male role models influencing their behavior for years.

    Not saying that a single-parent can’t do a good job raising children, but the statistics show us that the odds are much lower. Until we stop making excuses for people in these low income communities, and start making them accept responsibility and recognize that their actions are the main contributing factor, we’ll never solve this problem.

  14. Hahahahaha ….. Sounds as if someone decided to take the premis of the TV show “Flashpoint”, modify it a bit and call it their own and put it on the streets!

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