More Feedback on Gang Issues

Here are two responses I’ve received that are pretty representative of what I’ve been receiving the past several days regarding my previous response to one comment I received. Here was the initial comment and my response. I did not correct grammatical errors in the statements:

Comment: Ahh, diversity. Regarding your comments about the gang problem in Northfield; yeah, those darned Norwegians, every time you get a bunch of them together you just know there’s gonna be trouble. To even mention this is to reveal that you have been afflicted by political correctness. Look, I love Mexicans, I count them among my friends and family. But, to deny that ethnicity plays a role is to stick your head in the sand; or worse. Was there a REAL gang problem when the townsfolk were all of European descent? As a law officer, you should certainly be aware of the saying: “Just the facts.” When we obfuscate issues with feel good rhetoric, we are in no way helping the situation.

Here is my response:

Actually there were problems before Hispanics and Asians arrived in Northfield, according to Maggie Lee in the Northfield News, Northfield has the proud distinction of having a chapter of the Klu Klux Klan. So here are the facts that you referenced. If we were sticking our heads in the sand, there wouldn’t have been an informational meeting and I certainly would not want to post the topic in my weblog. Let’s not also forget the hanging of a black male in Duluth simply because he was guilty of being black and convenient to pin the blame on for another man’s crime. The message I was trying to convey was that to simply lump someone into the category of a gang member simply because of their race, gender or ethnicity or because of the way they look is for one thing illegal and it certainly not ethical. You might be interested to know the first identified gang member to fit the state criteria back in 1999 in Northfield was a white male…a local resident.

Here are the two recent comments:

Comment: One white guy who meets state criteria does not a gang “problem” make. How many members constituted this “chapter” of the klan? A few drunken idiots
is far more likely. There may have been problems before the massive influx
of Hispanics and Asians, but I’m certain if you reference crime history you
will find a measurable increase since the change. To be sure, not all
members of any particular group, *bar muslims, should be lumped together as
suspect. But to state that race has nothing to do with the current gang
problem is factually incorrect.

Pity, I was not aware that the good people of Northfield were responsible for the lynching in Duluth.

*Read the Koran, Hadith, and other pertinent Islamic texts.

And The Second:

Comment: Chief Smith … I attended Carleton in the early 60’s and was amazed to hear of the recent article about gangs in Northfield. I just found your blog and want to tell you how impressed I am at both the fact you have a blog for citizens, but also the fair and objective way you’re dealing with the gang issue. I wish you the best. Northfield is in good hands!

To wrap this up, I’ll simply restate that gang behavior as was discussed has been going on for several centuries. It had very little to do with the groups currently identified. The causation factors: both social and economic basically remain the same. Competent law enforcement officials view the criminal activity with an impartial view; gathering the facts and appropriate intelligence information. The focus of our younger kids should be education and prevention, unfortunately there is precious little of that going around. The enforcement has and will continue to center on criminal conspiracy with the goal of removing those criminals from our communities through the criminal justice system.

The response has been encouraging. That means people are engaged and hopefully that will translate to a review of public policy and those safeguards that would keep our kids out of gangs.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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