Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moreno Valley: Deterring crime with Big Brother and Youth Activities

Law enforcement and Moreno Valley officials are working together to fight against the growth of crime plaguing the city. What looks like ordinary traffic control cameras along city streets are extra eyes for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Speakers attached to some of the cameras allow the police to interact remotely whenever something suspicious is happening. As a transit advocacy group, we want a first-rate transportation system for the region which deserves to have streets that are free of crimes and gangs.

We're longing for expanded transit services in this region, but even the best-of-the-best infrastructure would mean nothing if the places it serves is called "The Murda" or "a city of death."

Privacy:

Some residents have raised some privacy concerns about these cameras that cannot be ignored. The Fourth Amendment also needs to be respected; Big Brother should not be going into people's backyards without a search warrant. Officers have reported that the government has strict rules that prevent privacy breaches. According to sources, there are no microphones; people's conversations are not monitored or recorded. The cameras won't be used for automated traffic photo enforcement. Cameras pointed toward private windows will be blocked out. Facial recognition systems would be used to catch wanted criminals on the run. A fair policy to debate and potentially adopt would be this: If an officer remotely stops an individual through the speaker system or in person, uses or saves recordings for investigations, or spots something suspicious, the incident should be documented and, if used in court, recorded under oath.

Another fair policy is better transparency and community education of the system. To help allay some concerns, Moreno Valley has scheduled public tours of its monitoring center on Nov. 7. The government has promised transparency and has released this Q & A document on the City website. It may be a good idea for the City to expand this document so it can be found easier with a link on the front page given the high level of public interest.

Stopping Crime: Better Parental Involvement with Children

Speaking of better networking, residents have also demanded better communications and answers for the Raymond Johnson case. We won't make any judgements on this case until more facts are made public, but officials held a public forum on October 28. Topics included what residents can do to better deter crime, such as communication, parental and civic involvement and jobs, particularly for those with criminal records. High-ranking officers and community leaders implored residents to get more involved in their children's lives and civic groups.

There is work do be done to perfect these cameras and debates should continue to solve Moreno Valley's crime problems. Simply put: If there's chronic violent, drug or gang crimes taking place in an neighborhood, it needs to be enforced and patrolled better regardless of who is involved. Secondly, one of the roots of the criminal and gang cultures is poor parenting. At-risk youths are recruited into these groups because they have nobody else to turn to. They are looking for satisfaction from the garbage dump because they are not being raised properly and not getting the proper discipline necessary to compete in the American marketplace. Residents have responded and are not giving up. Numerous youth activities have formed to keep vulnerable youth from joining gangs.

The Transit Coalition has urged officials from all sectors to use public forums and the public messaging system to encourage good parenting and to stop troubled youths from joining gangs. Raising children right can't be legislated in a free society, but such advocacy combined with a strong law enforcement presence must be broadcasted to drive out this violent subculture. That's a solution of how Moreno Valley and the rest of the Inland Empire can attain a better transportation system that is not plagued in criminal activity.

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