June 26, 2009 2:55 PM
"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."
A new farmers market on the Southwest Side will not stop crime there. But it is one way to help neighbors meet each other, and we know that breaking down anonymity is one way to reduce crime. So I was happy to be there the other day with neighborhood leaders, the County Executive and others to help kick off the first market at the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ.
It's a small thing, but success is made up of a lot of small things and a few big ones. Some will work. Some won't. But we have to keep trying. So the day after the farmers market opened I issued a statement with 19 ideas on how we can tackle crime in Madison. I guarantee you that no one of these ideas alone will solve the problem. I also won't say that they are just a start. In fact, many of these initiatives are a continuation of efforts that have gone on for years combined with some new ideas. For a complete view of the plan click here: https://www.cityofmadison.com/news/view.cfm?news_id=1548.
What this takes is continuous effort, willingness to try new things and, as FDR said, honesty to evaluate our progress and make changes when something doesn't work.
Another thing we need to recognize is that every answer can't come from the Police Department or City government in general. What we need is a comprehensive approach and a partnership between your city government and the community and neighborhood leaders who know their neighborhoods best.
It doesn't do any good to try to divide the community against itself as some have, playing one part of our city off against another, or pointing fingers at an amorphous "City Hall." This is particularly a problem when those who want to blame City Hall are part of it.
Two years ago, I promised to add 30 new police officers, create an accelerated police academy to get about half of them on the street faster, pass a nuisance abatement ordinance, step up building inspections, start a neighborhood center on the Southwest side, increase programming at the Wisconsin Youth Company, build stronger relationships with the school district, create a neighborhoods liaison in my office and create a citywide neighborhood indicators program.
All of those promises were kept, and we have seen some positive results. Calls for police service are down in most of the Southwest side neighborhoods over the past two years, and we have identified specific problem areas on which we can focus our collective resources.
So those who want to make people believe that the entire City response to crime comes down to a small new farmers market know better than that.
What will work is working together. What will work is having the courage to try new things and keep trying. What will work is a comprehensive approach. And will work is a strong partnership between the community and the government that serves it.