10/24/05 — Fighting back: Citizens have more power to deter crime than they realize

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Fighting back: Citizens have more power to deter crime than they realize

There are some people who would have scolded the workers from the Wayne County Health Department who decided to chase after a purse-snatching suspect earlier this month.

After all, the women did not know whom they were chasing, or if he or she would respond violently — and, of course, these days, who really wants to get involved?

And while there is some merit to the argument — law enforcement officers will tell you to be cautious about how you handle encounters with criminals — those of us who read the story probably cheered a little inside when we saw someone fight back.

These days it seems that the criminals outnumber the heroes. There are more stories on the news every day about assaults, abductions, murders and thefts than good Samaritans who foil crimes.

So, when a bunch of regular people win one, the rest of us feel like there might be a chance for all of us to reject the violence and lack of respect for others’ property that seem to have become so common these days.

The women at the Health Department are heroines not just because they helped out a stranger. They are to be admired because they took a stand against a wrong. In an age when more and more people are turning away from interfering when they see a fellow human being in danger, these women decided that this criminal wasn’t going to win this purse battle.

Good for them.

Many people discount the value of neighborhood watch programs, community crime-fighting efforts and the simple decision to make sure you know how to handle yourself in an emergency.

Getting prepared to fight back, and then making sure you do, is one of the most effective ways to let criminals know they need to find another victim.

Criminals aren’t going to plan a robbery in a neighborhood where there are dozens of pairs of eyes watching for unusual activity or people who are out of place. They are going to go where they can slip in or out.

And if more criminals are met with people who are not willing to simply hand them a purse or easily accept the victim role, they are going to move on, too.

The Health Department heroines should remind us all that we have more power than we think, and that it is possible for regular people to take back their communities from the criminals.

And that is a powerful weapon in the war against crime.

Published in Editorials on October 24, 2005 9:58 AM