The rising crime rate in the society is not a new development. However, rising crime rates within the school premises is a matter of concern. It reflects how we want the future generation to grow up and learn. This essay shall discuss in detail the reasons related to the rising crime rates in Dayton and how they were curbed. It is very clear that the methods used by the police have worked as the crime rates have gone down by 76%.
The Urban High School had recorded a high number of calls for service within the school area as well as the immediate surrounding areas. The main reason of such rising crime rates among school going children were the same plaguing the society. The behaviour of the kids was a mirror image of the issues being dealt by the city as a whole. The traditional response given by the police to the calls made by the students only resulted in an increase in the number of crimes and calls from the school. (Klinger, 1997) The school was attracting a bad reputation for itself and there was no academic excellence from the students and a low promotion rate, which could also be attributed to the rising crime rates. The whole city was going thorough a phase of economic constrains due to recent changes and loss of revenue in the city. (Na & Gottfredson, 2013) The additional appointment of work-force to keep an eye on the students of the school and respond to their calls was out of the question as there were not enough funds and even the school could not approve certain structural changes to bring down the crime rates due to lack of funds. It has to be kept in mind that no individual is born as an offender. (Brady, Balmer & Phenix, 2007) Most of the times the surrounding environment and the influence put on the teens make them act in a certain way and commit offences. A few students of the school were already Juvenile offenders and it may be taken into consideration that they might have been influencing other students to act in a particular manner and commit offences. The approach taken by the Dayton Police Department was practical and laudable in some ways, although it gave good results, a number of things should have been given more importance and consideration as they could have caused the whole approach to fail. However, the crime rates went down drastically by 76% and the issues related to the High School were solved, the approach taken by the authorities worked well in their favour.
The grassroot reason for the rise in criminal activities was the citywide economic downturn across Dayton, Ohio. This was a serious issue that plagued the society outside the school as well as within the school premises. However, specific reasons with the school building were found to be more direct to the issue. The running of the school was disorganised and dysfunctional. The assignment of the classrooms for the classes within the school was haphazard which led to the students having to race from one end of the school to the other so that they can get to the classrooms on time. Students would collide into each other and a large number of these instances would lead to stealing, assault and fighting in the school grounds, leading to calls to the police department. There were no CCTV cameras installed in the hallways and the school grounds which lead the students to believe that they would not be found or caught. Additionally, no surveillance or monitoring of students and their activities- inside as well as outside of school hours allowed for the surrounding areas to become dangerously notorious and known for the crimes done by the students of the High School. (Devlin & Gottfredson, 2018)
The police went through the data and found that the traditional method of patrolling and arresting the culprit for the offence was not working out as majority of the times the real culprit could not be identified or had to be released due to lack of evidence. This gave new-found confidence to the offender and they indulged in more serious crimes. As a result, the crime rates only went up without any change. The police department had to come up with new ideas to curb the crime rates and get a hold on the situation. Thus, they implemented the Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) strategy instead of the regular age-old patrolling to make sure that the crime issues could be solved in an effective manner. (Price, 2008) They started using crime prevention techniques that were aided through environmental design, through which the students could be monitored in the school hours and after the school hours in the surrounding areas as well.
The Theory of ‘Environmental Criminology’ is based on the belief that there are certain crime patterns which may be related to specific environment influences. If these surrounding environment issues can be resolved, then the crime shall not be committed. (Wartell & Gallagher, 2012) The difference between a crime analyst and an environment analyst has to be clearly understood as they are inter-related and work hand-in-hand with each other. Traditional theories related to criminality focus on how biological factors, a previous history of criminal records and related factors push an individual to commit a crime. (Bichler & Malm, 2008) The recent theories tend to consider the said factors as distant reasons of crime. These reasons may affect the offender but cannot be recorded as the direct causes of the crimes. The direct cause of crime may be understood by closely examining the situation in which the crime was committed, as to, where; when; who; what; why and how factors are looked into. The basis on which such theories were developed are:
In the present situation, there is non-uniformity and non-randomness in the activity of criminal nature that is being committed. The Crime Pattern theory states that the offender is usually well aware of the surrounding areas where he chooses to commit the same. The theory further explains – there are places known as ‘crime generators’ that are preferred by offenders and are converted into hotspots for criminal activities. The bus stops that have been mentioned in the case fall into this category. Secondly, there are areas known as ‘crime attractors’ which the offenders tend to frequent as crime opportunities are already rampant in those areas. The discreet alley-ways which are at a short distance from Belmont are examples that were staring at the face of the authorities. Lastly, the areas mentioned above are have minimal authority supervision. Since Belmont was never under surveillance of authorities before the rise of criminal activities in the area, it became a trouble spot for the students to get tangled in criminal activities as they felt that it would be impossible for authorities to observe the crimes being committing in the area.
The Rational Choice Theory links the areas mentioned above and states that the spike in criminal activities in these areas are due to the offenders being aware of the fact that these areas are unsupervised and thus, they can most likely go scot free as no one could get evidence of the criminal acts being done by them. (Scott, 2000) They assess the danger and cost of perpetrating wrongdoings in these regions against the award of the wrongdoing. The students are additionally ready to utilize rational choice theory inside the school grounds and hours because of the absence of rules and guidelines inside school structures before the execution of the intervention from the police office. Students would regularly run into one another in the lobby and face little or no punishment for burglary and attack. The student offenders knew precisely how much danger there was in all aspects of the school and its encompassing territory in this manner permitting them to carry out wrongdoings with little to no negative effect on them. (Coleman & Fararo, 1992)
The Routine Activities theory delves further into the issue and states that offenders tend to target their victims based on a distinct absence of an authority or elder. This theory observes the patterns and routines that are followed in the crime filled areas. The offenders select a suitable target easily since they are well-aware of the surrounding areas and the people in them. With Belmont containing a large number of Juveniles, gullible students and the absence of capable authorities, there is a sharp incline in criminal activity in the area. The experienced students indulging in the acts may get away with criminal offences as the presence of officers was not very frequent in the areas before the intervention. This is a general difference that is observed in the drastic change comparing the situation before the intervention with that of after the intervention.
The police Department of Dayton did a very thorough job of identifying the issues and catering to them individually to get rid of the same. It may be said that it is highly improbable that factors outside the consideration of the Police Department have had a significant influence on the drastic decrease in the crime rates, but it may be too soon to rule any factors out of consideration.
There are similar situations that are being faced by the authorities all over the world and need similar solutions to solve the issues. With all projects similar to the one being discussed, there are a number of important details that may be observed, especially when the issue at hand is so serious. The evaluation that was undertaken, the departments involved gave a very clear and succinct observation as to how the project could to be implemented to give the best results, it gave detailed information on every ambit of the project which can be considered for implementation in other schools with similar issues of discord and crime. The offices required to be involved in the implementation of the plan did shockingly well, thinking about their low financial plan and generally speaking about the absence of assets, which demonstrates that it was not difficult to manage the issue without an outrageous and expensive financial plan; what they needed fiscally was made up in their capacity to determine the issue. One huge factor of their venture which has to be highlighted was that all the departments involved in the intervention agreed to all the actions that were planned to be executed, unanimously. This reduced the time be squandered in sorting out a reaction procedure to a great extent. The officials had various thoughts on what they needed to actualize and worked on it together. This co-operation could not have lasted long if all the parties were not in agreement of the methods of intervention and did not play their part to precision.
The initial hypotheses was based on the observation, that the social displacement within Belmont was the reason of the rising crime rates in the area and that the children were only mirroring the factors occurring in the wider community, especially due to the continued economic downturn across Dayton. Subsequent to research, it was found that a mixture of inefficiency and unorganised methods of functioning within the school buildings, along with factors like classroom assignment and the absence of safety felt by victimised students and staff were the actual reasons for the rising delinquency rates in the school and nearby areas.
The diagnosis that the school’s environment was the foremost factor for the high rates of crime, was exactly on point. However, it can also be said that according to the ‘Labelling Theory’, there was a certain amount of labelling that may have been the root cause of all the problems. The students of Belmont were conscious that the rates of criminal offences being committed in the school and the surrounding area were high and this may have resulted in the students believing that they are not fit for the general society and therefore continued to contribute to the rise of criminal activity instead of trying to make a change in the situation. (Bernburg, Krohn & Rivera, 2006)
The transfer of students who were encouraging others to take part in criminal activities to other schools was not discussed in detail. It had the potential of having an impact on crime reduction far more than originally thought. The offending students being sent to different schools kept them separate from the students who were being encouraged to behave in a criminally offending manner. This was seen with one student in particular who became the valedictorian at the school they were transferred to. If this occurred with other at-risk students who were transferred, then it could have greatly depreciated the overall rate of criminal activity across Dayton as a whole, not only within Belmont. This particular act of transferring students likely to indulge in criminal activities may back-fire if they are able to influence the students at the new school. A separate issue would then crop up and the same crime issues would be faced from a new place. Thus, this may be kept in mind.
As a whole there are a few topics that could have been reinforced within the assessment, but, the students have to be made the priority while dealing with this situation or any other similar situation, as it affects them the most.
The intervention by the police department and its success displays the efficiency. There are not many factors that may be spoken about which could have been improved as the execution of the plan was near to impeccable.
With any undertaking including the career and capacities of youngsters (students), there should be a reasonable and crisp agreement to them being the main concern. This specific intervention centres around crime rate reduction and prevention of the same, yet it additionally is catering in on the wellbeing and brilliance of students who get trapped in the middle of this offence riddled area. The only recommendation that may be provided in a situation of this sort is that the safety of the non-offending students should be looked into first. This gives the advantage to form the new rules and guidelines according to the needs of the students instead of a strict regime being implemented on all students without any discrimination. Students should be consulted about the issues that are being faced and they might be able to provide an insight that the authorities might have overlooked. Although the exact same implementations cannot be picked up and applied to another situation as different areas have their own variations with respect to ideals and activities. Thus, ideas may be changed and formulated to suit the specific needs of a particular area and to cater to a particular issue.
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Bernburg, J. G., Krohn, M. D., & Rivera, C. J. (2006). Official labeling, criminal embeddedness, and subsequent delinquency: A longitudinal test of labeling theory. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 43(1), 67-88.
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