Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Dear Ms. Gill,
I am not usually one to comment on the news articles. Like most people, I enjoy reading the paper and then I go on with my day and do everything I can to keep my own name out of it. I wanted to commend you on your article covering the increase in Nashua’s crime statistics. I thought it was well written, well investigated, and entirely objective.
I have been practicing criminal law in Nashua, New Hampshire for approximately 7 years (as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney). I am in the criminal courts almost every day and I can tell you that the crowds are not going down. I don’t pretend to have any idea as to what the solution is for deterring criminal behavior. But, I would like to suggest a few concepts that may have evaded the mayor and the police hierarchy.
First, I was struck by how the reported use of drug crime has risen, but no one with whom you spoke mentioned the need for more rehabilitative drug clinics or an increase in health and human services funding. Having more police on the street does not PREVENT the use of illegal drugs given that most people use drugs in the privacy of their own homes. Unless the city plans on placing its police officers in the homes of its residents, the simple hiring of more police officers will not PREVENT the use of drugs in our fair city. This may be an important consideration when one considers that drug use tends to foster other crimes such as theft, home invasions, shoplifting, and other behavior that stems from addictive/drug habit supporting behavior.
I also wonder if there has been any substantive discussions between city hall and the Nashua Police about the strategic placement of police units that are already available. Some neighborhoods have more crime than others, and routine patrol grids should reflect that reality if they don’t all ready. I only raise this point because it was not mentioned by any of the officials who are calling for more money to throw at the problem.
As far as vandalism and destruction is concerned, I wonder why no one has suggested the organizing of neighborhood watches, an increase in well-lit streets, and programs that give young people something to do on Friday or Saturday nights. I am not suggesting that the city should act as babysitter or a rich uncle to all of its inhabitants. I am suggesting, however, that bigger and bigger police departments do not PREVENT crime, they only detect criminal behavior after it has occurred.
I was also surprised that none of the officials even mentioned the fact that this city (and country) is still in the midst of a recession. History and common sense tell us that poor economic conditions tend to breed temporary increases in criminal activity. If the increase in crime is temporary, then there may not be a need to permanently grow the police department.
Let’s be honest, as one drives around Nashua, the words “there aren’t enough police in this city” do not come to mind. Nashua is not known for its lack of police presence. The city may, however, be regarded as short-sighted if it continues to think that crime can be solved simply by throwing more green at a single blue solution.
Mark A. Osborne
Attorney at Law
Shepherd and Osborne, PLLC
351 Main Street, 2nd Floor
Nashua, NH 03060