Advocate editorial board opinion: Victoria sees fewer offenses, becomes safer
By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 28, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:28 p.m.
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We welcomed the good news that Victoria's overall crime rate dropped 3 percent last year.
Victoria Police Chief JJ Craig noted that across the nation crime was on the decline, but he said the rate "is all unique to individual communities."
For example, he said major cities now are starting to see "a little tick up."
"Crime is local. It drives people crazy because they want to make a comparison, but what works in one city won't work in another," Craig said.
We observe that whatever is happening in Victoria to curb crime is working. And we praise the reasons and the people who are making this happen.
Craig summarized the situation using five factors.
First, he said the city's good economy has something to do with the lower crime rate. He called the city's well-being an external economic point. An internal economic point would be that the police department is supported by the community and that it is not facing any budget cuts.
A city's infrastructure or how it is set up and designed is a second factor.
You can have "crime prevention through environmental design," he said. "And you can see that through certain neighborhoods."
Also, law enforcement activity "has a lot to do with it" Craig said. He noted that Victoria's 116 sworn officers are very active.
"They are very busy and very progressive." he said.
Technology has played an important role in lowering the crime rate, too. Craig cited his department's record management system for efficiency. And he said other areas of technology will play a part in the future. For example, one electronic device is a license scanner that can scan a license plate eight times faster than a police officer, plus the officer can get real-time data on the license plate, car and owner quickly from the device.
"We're looking at these kinds of things," he said.
Finally, residents are a big piece of the puzzle. "Involvement is a big key - it can influence crime in a positive way or a negative way."
Craig said the community trusts the police department and that partnership is extremely important to keep crime down. In addition, he said he would love to work with other city departments more to partner on environmental design.
For example, Craig said his department worked well with the city's Parks and Recreation Department to cut back blind spots along the hike and bike trail.
"We continue to realize the successes we have," he said.
He added that he'd like to see a 5 percent reduction in the crime rate next year.
We'd like to see a further reduction, too. And we urge residents to continue fostering a good relationship with our police department, as it goes about the business of keeping us safe and crime free. In doing so, we all can improve our quality of life.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.