Let's Debate: How can we get to the very bottom of Inland Empire crime and vandalism?

Organized crime arrest. Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation
By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

Let's debate: Do you have any solutions that you think might address violent crime, gangs, and vandalism in the Inland Empire from their very sources? What are your ideas to keep our buses, trains, and public bathrooms free from graffiti? How can places like San Bernardino, Moreno Valley, Hemet, and central Perris become more safe and desirable places to live and work? What can the governments do to solve this problem?

Last week, I was conducting a field study of the Historic 395 transportation corridor which connects Lake Elsinore to Temecula via the I-15 freeway frontage roads. What officials have envisioned for this corridor is smart growth and transit-oriented development; that will be covered at another time. Anyway, portions of the corridor are certainly suffering in urban neglect. I went into one of the gas stations. The bathroom, as I expected, had visible signs of graffiti, scratch marks on the stalls, and vandalism on the mirror. Outside, there were illicit markings scratched into the gas pumps and payment terminals.

These are clearly things that pretty much all of us do not want our precious transit systems to be mired in. So, a question came to mind: Why do people do these sorts of things? The short answer on the surface may be greed for power, desperation, or mental health issues. But why? Why turn toward destructive crime and not seek help given the abundance of programs that are out there? Another proven source to this grave problem is the destruction of the family unit where youth grow up with an ill-advised mentality that they can do whatever they want and when they want with no discipline and no respect to honor righteous authority. I will argue that such a serious issue contributes heavily to Inland Empire gang crime.

I'll be taking in some direct facts this week in order to build up our campaign to keep our transit fleets and the cities they serve free from gang crime and vandalism, but I submit the same question to you readers: Why do you think there are groups of people that behave badly? Why do they join the gangs and not the local youth group? Why do they scratch and vandalize our transit infrastructure and public bathrooms with illicit garbage messages? Why do they destroy rather than build? What solutions do you propose that will get to the source of this problem beyond the warnings, cameras and enforcement?

Post your opinions in the comments and I'll share what I found on Monday.