A crime story essay
Though the police can obviously make arrests whenever a gang member breaks the law, a gang can form, recruit, and congregate without breaking the law. Today, the atmosphere has changed. The police will soon feel helpless, and the residents will again believe that the police "do nothing." What the police in fact do is to chase known gang members out of the project. We assume, in thinking this way, that what is good for the individual will be good for the community and what doesn't matter when it happens to one person won't matter if it happens to many. We are not confident that there is a satisfactory answer except to hope that by their selection, training, and supervision, the police will be inculcated with a clear sense of the outer limit of their discretionary authority. We have difficulty thinking about such matters, not simply because the ethical and legal issues are so complex but because we have become accustomed to thinking of the law in essentially individualistic terms. But it could.
Recently, a boy stole a purse and ran off. Suppose a white project confronted a black gang, or vice versa. The citizens felt that the police were insensitive or brutal; the police, in turn, complained of unprovoked attacks on them. None of this is easily reconciled with any conception of due process or fair treatment. Several young persons who saw the theft voluntarily passed along to the police information on the identity and residence of the thief, and they did this publicly, with friends and neighbors looking. That limit, roughly, is thisthe police exist to help regulate behavior, not to maintain the racial or ethnic purity of a neighborhood. Since both residents and gang members are black, race is not a factor. We can offer no wholly satisfactory answer to this important question. Ordinarily, those are plausible assumptions. Law enforcement, per se, is no answer: a gang can weaken or destroy a community by standing about in a menacing fashion and speaking rudely to passersby without breaking the law. Some Chicago officers tell of times when they were afraid to enter the Homes. It is home for nearly 20,000 people, all black, and extends over ninety-two acres along South State Street.
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