Panic Doesn’t Fight Crime | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Panic Doesn’t Fight Crime


Laurie Bertram Roberts

We in the Jackson area have been rocked recently by some horrific murders. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims.

I, like others, am deeply concerned about the health and well-being of our city. Specifically, I am highly concerned with how we choose to respond to crime in our city. 

I live in Jackson. Not the fancy-dressed, popular part of Jackson, but one of the parts that, when you tell people you live there, they say, "I'm sorry." The thing is, I'm not sorry. I can honestly say that, although I am cautious, I have never lived in fear of my neighbors. 
We collectively tend to do three things in Jackson I see as ineffective. We panic, we hold marches and vigils, and we tell people to pray.

Panicking leads people to make rash decisions, including ones about policy not based on reason or on what is most effective.

I am generally in favor of holding marches and vigils—they call attention to a problem. They can get the media to pay attention. But if we aren't giving people concrete action items to do in their communities when they leave that march, we are wasting our time.

Praying isn't bad. I am a woman of faith. Faith is important and critical for some, not all, people's lives. However, prayer is not a replacement for social action.

What we need is a greater sense of community. I am not afraid of my neighbors because I know them. It has nothing to do with how much money they make or whether we own our houses. It's because, for the most part, I watch their house, and they watch mine. As a meme somewhere online recently said, I don't watch my neighbors I see them.

When we see our neighbors, we care about them. We will put away stupid slogans like "stop snitching" and know that looking out for criminals among us benefits none of us. Snitching is when you and I commit a crime, then I tell. It's not when I call the police because I see someone breaking into the house next door. My personal code is if I see harm done to someone in this city, I won't just stand by quietly.

Belief in a better Jackson is a start, but it won't fix our problems. We have to commit to doing work for a better Jackson on all fronts, all of us. As the Bible says, "Faith without work is dead."

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