New York Times: To Stop Crime, Hand Over Cash


That’s the title of the article in this Sunday’s New York Times, penned by the Tolkeinesquely-named Devone L Boggan. What’s this? you ask. Another article on the [supposed] advantages of gun control for disarmed individuals? You know the line: a crime victims’s less likely to die in a gunfight if they don’t have a gun. Which presupposes that the robber(s) taking your money won’t punch, stab, stomp or shoot you even if you hand over your cash or jewels just because they can. And do. But the odds are less, our anti-gun friends insist. Yeah, No thanks. Anyway, this isn’t that article. Boggan’s a “neighborhood safety director” writing about his efforts to stop shootings in gangland California, which includes this important factoid . . .

A police liaison officer told us this startling fact: An estimated 70 percent of shootings and homicides in Richmond in 2009 were caused by just 17 individuals, primarily African-American and Hispanic-American men between the ages of 16 and 25.

So . . . lock ’em up! That ought to solve matters! Don’t be silly. Locking up violent repeat offenders — gang members all — is insensitive. It’s better to reason with them. Failing that, pay them off. No really.

The idea of a cash incentive to change behavior is not hard to grasp. The social context for our prospective fellows was a laundry list of deprivation and dysfunction: high unemployment, fragmented families, inadequate education and a heavy dose of substance abuse. The proportion of families living below the poverty level in the neighborhoods where we focused our efforts was 25 percent — nearly double the average rate in Richmond.

In most other cities, the law enforcement response to high rates of firearm assaults is stuck in a destructive cycle of police sweeps and mass incarceration. That strategy costs taxpayers a great deal, for little return. In many municipalities where gun violence is significant, the city’s public safety expenditure can be a considerable burden on the overall city budget. That is not sustainable.

Nationally, it is estimated that in 2012 gun violence cost more than $229 billion. The average cost to taxpayers of every gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000.

In contrast, the costs of our program were modest. In practice, we have rarely needed to pay the full amount offered under the terms of our deal: Just over half our fellowship participants receive payments, usually in the $300 to $700 range. So if our program prevented gun deaths, there could be little argument about cost-effectiveness.

If. There it is. If. I’ll present Boggan’s “evidence” that their pay-off-the-bad-guys program worked in a moment. But first, a few observations:

1.) It’s amoral. Paying bad actors not act badly is an entirely amoral approach to reducing the number of firearms-related crimes. A “former” criminal in Operation Peacemaker who “attends meetings, stays out of trouble, responds to our mentoring” gets a grand a month. An honor student who keeps his nose clean throughout his childhood gets what? Nothing.

2.) It’s dangerous. I’d be dollars to donuts that Operation Peacemaker has unintentional consequences. I’m thinking it encourages marginal gang bangers (if such a thing exists) to commit crimes heinous enough so that they too can qualify for a government subsidy not to commit heinous crime. For example.

3.) It’s unbelievable. A gang banger can make the equivalent of the program’s monthly payment in a single illegal drug transaction. The idea that a $700 payment would stop a life of crime is absurd.

4.) It’s expensive. Boggan writes that Operation Peacemaker cost taxpayers $3 million per year: 150 “clients” at “about” $20,000 per year. Assuming that the aforementioned analysis of Richmond shooters is still valid, what would it cost to arrest, prosecute and jail the couple of dozen bad guys who cause an estimated 70 percent of Richmond’s firearms-related crime? One wonders whether that would be more cost effective – and effective generally – than trying to keep bad guys on a leash in public.

Not Boggan. He reckons Operation Peacemaker’s a total success and a screaming deal that should be replicated nationwide. Here’s his final return-on-investment calculation:

In the first year of Operation Peacemaker, homicides in Richmond fell to 22 (from 45 in 2009). In five years of our program, through 2014, we have seen the number of homicides in Richmond, which had averaged 40 a year, more than halved; firearm assaults in general fell by a similar proportion.

In 2014, we celebrated the lowest number of firearm assaults and homicides in more than four decades. Richmond recorded a 76 percent reduction in homicides and a 69 percent reduction in firearm assaults from 2007, when the Office of Neighborhood Safety was created.

Suffice it to say, correlation does not equal causation. What were the stats in equivalent neighborhoods without Operation Peacemaker? Boggan’s program is a riff on the Operation Ceasefire program that pays allegedly reformed ex-cons to “mentor” other bad guys and lead them away from a life of crime. It sounds great. But there’s not a single shred of scientific evidence to suggest it works. Other than generating media-friendly sounds bites and scoring feel good political points. Like this:

Not all of our fellows become model citizens overnight, but the results go beyond fewer shootings. More are in school or in jobs; there is more parenting, less drug use. And some have gone on to participate in other programs that are improving their prospects and our neighborhoods. I hope more cities will copy Richmond’s program. Encouragingly, the city of Oakland is incorporating some elements of our fellowship in its Operation Ceasefire work.

Vague much? This is the carrot and stick approach gone mad in a state where every day is opposite day. And decent, law-abiding citizens are denied the ability to use their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to defend themselves against criminals, to deter criminals, by force of arms.

[h/t SS]


  1. avatar Allen says:

    People who point a gun at your head are inheritantly trustworthy.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    Damn! I’m gonna put together a little gang, start capping strangers and then cut myself a sweet deal with the .gov. I’m thinking about demanding $500-$700 per person that I don’t shoot. To start.

    1. avatar Bob Watson says:

      I will not shoot people for $450.00 each.

      1. avatar Chip in Florida says:

        I will not shoot people for $425 each!

        What? This is America! Yeah Capitalism!

        1. avatar Stinkeye says:

          I have a thousand Chinese workers who will not shoot people for $4 each. Outsourcing!

      2. avatar Ing says:

        This whole exchange totally made my day. Any second now, somebody’s going to pop into the office and ask why I’m laughing so hard.

    2. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      Wait, wasn’t that Arafat’s scam to get money from the U.S. and the French? Ahhh….extortion. An oldie, but a goodie.

  3. avatar ThomasR says:

    The coddling and support of predatory behavior by the statists continues.

    Of course, this is modeled after the predatory behavior of our government. This is why the statists have such empathy for those on lower rungs of the predators hierarchy.

    And why they object so fiercely to their prey being armed. It makes it more difficult for all of their brethren to feed safely upon the masses.

  4. avatar chainsawferret says:

    Once you pay the danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

    1. avatar OakRiver says:

      That was exactly my thought too.

      So lets say we start to pay them to follow the law like everyone else. Then what? Do we keep paying them? Will they find gainful employment and just stop their violence? What incentive is there for them to reform if the government is paying them off and essentially rewarding them for criminal behaviour?

  5. avatar Mk10108 says:

    Not worth commenting on that logic.

    1. avatar Roscoe says:

      Yeah, really; but ‘ding’, one for the count, nonetheless.

  6. avatar CGinTX says:

    I’ll admit that in TTAG-land I’m pretty damn left of the average center here, and this “program” literally is making me feel nauseous.

    1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

      It doesn’t differ much from our foreign policy.

  7. avatar Ryan says:

    Well… there is merit to the idea. The Sons of Iraq program started the Sunni “awakening” movement. Essentially we paid the guys $300 a month to wear reflective belts and not kill us.

    Kind of makes me wonder if we could start some of Village Police Officer program in the inner city the same way Alaska does it among the Natives.

  8. avatar Grindstone says:

    FTA, it appears they also provide counseling and mentoring, which is actually very helpful. However, I do doubt that their little project alone achieved the success he’s claiming. I’d like to see more context to those numbers.
    Also, the buzzword “gun violence” is splattered all over the article. I wonder what the numbers look like on violence, period.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Counseling and mentoring?


      “Now, Darren, how do you think Johni feels when you bust a cap in his ass?”

      Yeah. I can see that working real well.


      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        So what, you think it’s better to just let them run around in the streets instead of offering advise on how to get a job, how to clean up their act?

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          Call it low expectations, Grind…

  9. avatar gsnyder says:

    I’m speechless. There is no way to reply to such foolishness and stupidity. AKA never argue with a fool theory.

  10. avatar JR Pollock says:

    It’s referred to as “perverse incentive”, one of the most famous examples being the city of Hanoi, under French rule tried to eradicate their rat infestation by paying a bounty for severed rat tails. Very quickly, people stated breeding rats, cutting off their tails, and letting them continue to breed more tails.

    Kind of like what Tom in Oregon and his buddies did with their gun buyback experiment.

  11. avatar dh34 says:

    I’m kinda curious where this $229 Billion number came from.

  12. avatar Bob says:

    Hole in the desert. Several bags of quick lime. Handful of .22lr. Result

    There is no fixing rust. You must cut it away from the good steel and patch in new, else it will spread and ruin everything.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Hole in the desert. Several bags of quick lime. ”

      Why it is always a good idea to know someone who owns a backhoe and doesn’t ask a lot of questions…

      Another tip: Have a number of those projects built long before you may need one.

      “I dunno what that is. Just a hole with dirt piled next to it. Strange…”

  13. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    I didn’t know that everyone wasn’t getting these payments!

  14. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    You get more of what you subsidize.

  15. avatar GCAZ says:

    Sounds like extortion to me, except the government: (IE: we the the sheeple ) are paying for it.
    I thought they put extortionists in jail. Al Kapon and protection racketeers where are you?
    But it makes you feel so good to help these poor down trodden people make a honest living.

  16. avatar J-El says:

    Right. Now what about the savings to society from defensive uses of guns?

  17. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

    Well for me personally, the odds are greater that someone trying to rob me will take some .40 hollow points with him to either the hospital or morgue or both.

  18. avatar crzapy says:

    This is not a new idea. It is a very old, and bad idea.

    Nations paid the Barbary pirates a fee to leave them alone, England paid the Vikings the Danegeld to leave them alone, Chinese Emperors tried to pay of the Mongol hordes to leave them alone.

    Anywhere there are predatory humans someone has come up with the idea of just paying them off. Problem is it not only doesn’t stop the bad behavior, it reinforces it.

    It is simple economics combined with human nature and common sense. If you want less of something you don’t create incentives for it.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Nations paid the Barbary pirates a fee to leave them alone…”

      Thomas Jefferson ended that crap.

      On the shores of Tripoli…

  19. An NRA spokesperson chimed in by proudly reminding the gun grabbers that the founding fathers made it very clear that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed which means that until true patriots do something about it, all of our rights are going to be infringed upon until bombs, lasers, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and nukes are readily available to any willing buyer…

    Is this because states with lax laws have guns that used to be legal crossing into new york?

    How do you figure, gunnuts? Are you implying that ANY regulations on the proliferation of arms is not Constitutional?

    If so, help me understand how passing out guns to any willing buyer like candy is a good idea…

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Understanding requires a mental capacity far beyond your ability. son.

      Now, frig off, the adults are speaking.

      Got it?

      Dance, troll.

      I order you to dance…

    2. avatar angryaz says:

      You do realize that….. nevermind your a libtard

      1. avatar Mark Lloyd says:

        I’ll give him some candy and show him some dirty pictures if he goes away!!

    3. avatar Mister Fleas says:

      What has that got to do with the article?

    4. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      So why isn’t the crime rate high in the states the guns are coming from and only where the guns end up? Surely its a minority of all firearms being smuggled over. Since more guns remain in the source state with lax laws and they still have a lower crime rate, the crime cannot be caused by the presence of the guns, right?

      And yes: ANY regulation that hinders a law abiding citizen’s access to purchase a firearm is unconstitutional, regardless of the intent of the regulation.

      No one is talking about handing anything out, and I’ve never seen candy go for $400+ a piece.

      Simply allowing people to buy arms without worrying to much about if criminals are also getting them had always worked to the benefit of public safety and creating a peaceful society, hindering access to arms has always benefited criminals and endangered he law abiding.

      Doesn’t it bother you that you cannot present any rational arguments for your position and your only means of defending your position is empty snark and trollish gibberish? Don’t you get tired of being wrong?

    5. avatar Chrispy says:

      Want to make money at home? Big money? Click this link!!! CLICK IT!!!

      That is all this comment looks like to me.

      1. avatar dh34 says:

        ^ this

  20. avatar Stinkeye says:

    “In the first year of Operation Peacemaker, homicides in Richmond fell to 22 (from 45 in 2009).”

    And in neighboring San Pablo, CA, homicides went from 8 in 2009 to 2 in 2010, and they don’t even have an Operation Bribe-A-Crook program. So maybe your shit isn’t quite as effective as you think, and there’s other reasons that homicide has declined.

    Also, in your town of Richmond, the stats show an average of 597 violent assaults per year for the four years leading up to the beginning of Operation Extortion, and an average of 686 for the first four years of the program (I couldn’t find data for 2014). So your program isn’t working at all on reducing people getting the shit beat out of them. An extra 90 people a year are getting their asses kicked under Operation Protection Racket, and since you want to claim all credit for the reduction in murders, you get to own those extra assaults, too.

    I could go on, but you get the idea.

  21. avatar mountocean says:

    I’m pretty mellow and can laugh off alot of crazy, but this really gets my goat. I’m in the clean-nose camp and ever since trouble makers in kindergarten got a pizza lunch off school ground for not making trouble, this appeasement/bribery/reverse-extortion business has pissed me off.

  22. avatar Javier in TX says:

    So let me get this straight. Not only is he paying those criminals protection money, but it comes out of the taxpayers’ pocket? I’m staggered that this appears to be legal.

  23. avatar Phil LA says:

    My God. This is where a generation of “tell a teacher” has gotten us.

  24. avatar Tecla says:

    So, I lived in that part of the SF Bay Area for six years (2007-2013), and particularly my church volunteer duties took me into the “iron triangle” region of Richmond regularly. During the day I wasn’t in danger of much except dirty looks from the locals or having my car stolen, but when it got dark that was a different story. I didn’t go there at night.

    Why? Because in Contra Costa county I couldn’t get a concealed carry permit. I couldn’t defend myself. I wouldn’t be caught dead in that part of town (because death was a non-zero likelihood, to say the least; clean-cut white guy in inner-city Richmond is a walking cash machine, so to speak).

    The decrease in the murder rate in Richmond is probably due to a few factors. First, a lot of the hoodlums were moving to Antioch and Pittsburg out at the end of the bay (and friends report that the crime rates there have increased a ton). Second, Richmond has gone to great lengths to improve their neighborhoods via better patrols (and help from the highway patrol), rebuilding of bad areas, stiffing upstream communities so they couldn’t have BART so that it would stop in Richmond (so people would move there), and so on. Richmond definitely was improving in that regard.

    But there are very few “legal” guns in Richmond, and so further restricting those wouldn’t make a dang bit of difference. If they want to further reduce the murder rate in Richmond, they need to demolish everything in the iron triangle and take out all the trash. Because the extent of their reduction in murders is due to the trash leaving due to neighborhood changes, trash being jailed, or trash being killed in gang warfare. No other factors are even relevant.

    1. avatar DrewN says:

      Hell, in 10 years they will be priced out of Pittburg/Antioch as well. Even Vallejo and Fairfield are getting pricey. I think Vacaville/Dixon/Woodland are still reasonably affordable, but all those towns are lily white/hispanic.

  25. avatar Refugee camp occupant says:

    It seems like the most effective method of homicide prevention would be to cull those 17 individuals from the herd.

    Pour encourager les autres…

  26. avatar CarlosT says:

    The average cost to taxpayers of every gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000.

    This little tidbit is starting to get on my nerves. So, what, if someone is killed with a knife it’s free? All of the costs associated with “gun homicides” (the police work, the court costs, the incarceration, etc., etc., etc.) are waived if the person doing the killing is courteous enough not to use one of those icky guns?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      It makes for a nice shocking headline, Carlos.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        Yeah, I know. But as someone who deals with data all the time, it’s the type of data I hate the most: technically true (maybe, I’ll be generous), but totally misleading.

        You see this kind of thing all the time from them. It’s their schtick, basically. It’s good for reeling in people who don’t look past the surface. Put a jarring factoid out there, yell “look at this baby!”, and you’re pretty much done.

  27. avatar styrgwillidar says:

    Kipling had something to say on the topic:

    It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
    “We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

    And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
    That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
    And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

    It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
    To puff and look important and to say: —
    “Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

    And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we’ve proved it again and again,
    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

    It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
    So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: —

    “We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that pays it is lost!”

    1. avatar some dude says:

      Is there anything Kipling can’t do.

  28. avatar tjlarson2k says:

    I just realized why the anti-gun prop is so annoying — it’s like witnessing bad parenting and knowing someone is going to raise a crappy kid.

    This is just another example. So we’re to reward bad behavior (crime) by giving them what they want (cash)?

    How stupid are these people?

  29. avatar OakRiver says:

    If every gun owner is considered a murderer in waiting does that mean that all gun owners will get government pay outs too? Or shall we just expect more rhetoric blaming us for the actions of others that we have no control over?

  30. avatar Doug McNeil says:

    Mayor: “The City of San Francisco does not pay criminals not to commit crimes. Instead, we pay a police department.”

    From “Dirty Harry,” 1971

  31. avatar Cucamonga Jeff says:

    There is a balanced approach to this whole thing. In California we have the whole 3 strikes tough on crime thing going on, which is also why are prisions are over crowded. We also have a huge illegal immigrants problem. We lock up immigrants when they commit a crime here, but we don’t deport them when they get out. There is very little to almost no support for any kind of job training or education in our jails because of unions. All of these policies have lead us to have the highest resitavisim rate in the country. That is how we have ended up paying criminals to not commit crime. Nobody in this state has the balls to do anything about our revolving door of a justice system. As long as the politicians and unions are happy who give a shit about Joe Shmoe that has committed two fellonies for selling crack because he never made it past the 8th grade. People above the poverty line don’t commit murder for the most part because when they do their trial is on TV, or they get an HBO special so they can admit how they had a good lawyer and they got away with it. I’m all for tough on crime, but if you really want to be tough on crime then educate people, cut up the gangs, love people like Jesus. If that don’t work, then gas the bastard.

  32. avatar onezero says:

    This kind sounds like paying the “Danegeld”.

  33. avatar David Thompson says:

    Better idea. End the welfare state which has incentivized the creation of these improverished, broken families and fatherless criminal class. The taxpayer saves money and the bad actors are never born in the first place.

  34. avatar Chrispy says:

    I think Stand Your Ground laws are a far more effective crime stopping tool.

    “Oh, you want to hurt me and mine? Here, take these pills, they’re 115 grains each and kinda hot.”

  35. avatar George says:

    The New York Times who published the address of Mr. Joshua, a witness who testified in the Ferguson event, who was executed the night of the verdict. That was when I stopped reading that rag. The fact that the editor there would allow that to be published told me they were irresponsible journalists.
    As for the People’s Democratic Republic of California, the criminals there are on a revolving door. They get sentenced to hard time, but once the Bureau of Prisons gets them, they can be released immediately, due to a federal court order to reduce overcrowding. Life is good for the criminals in the PDRC.

  36. avatar Justin_GA says:

    How about we actually solve the problem? How about we start re-issuing wanted dead or alive warrants. Maybe even offer a cash reward! Problem solved!

  37. avatar LongPurple says:

    I remember back in the 5th Grade, there was a cute little blonde girl with sausage curls who explained to me that Welfare payments would mean an end to crime. At the age of ten, she was already an indoctrinated Dem/Lib/Soc who believed “People only commit crimes to get money they don’t have, and need badly. If we give them that money, then they won’t have to rob and steal.”
    It looks like that same simplistic line of thought exists today — among people who should know better than a 5th grader.

  38. avatar Henry says:

    “An estimated 70 percent of shootings and homicides in Richmond in 2009 were caused by just 17 individuals, primarily African-American and Hispanic-American men between the ages of 16 and 25.”

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    On April 26, 1994, the CBS Evening News ran a story on a study of murders in Washington, DC over the previous 12 months. Of 460+ murders in the city, police expected to have 460+ suspects to track. With ATF help, it was determined that the majority of ALL murders was committed with a VERY FEW weapons, something on the order of 13.

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