It's one of those "no-kidding" stories, but it's worth writing about all the same. The headline pretty much says it all: "Police blame poor economy for surge in crime in South Florida." The article then provides some anecdotal evidence of how violent crime has surged, and how it seems the crimes themselves have become more violent.
Personally, I'd rather wait for the statistics to come out to show how the economy has affected crime, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that it's happening. But while Davie's police spokesman may be playing the cause-and-effect game with the criminal mind--times are bad and so criminals are more willing to take chances--there's another factor that needs to be looked at.
I've been harping on what I consider to be Florida's ruinous tax policy for a long time now, and one of the things I constantly mention as a side-effect of the "cut taxes at all costs" mentality is that police protection will be compromised. I'm certainly not a knee-jerk supporter of police action, but I am a strong believer in the idea that a public presence for police acts as a deterrent to crime, and one of the first things to go when budgets are cut is community policing.
Amy and I have a friend who does office work for the BSO, and she pretty much confirmed our suspicions recently when we were talking about budget concerns--her unit was already very shorthanded, and the official word is that not only will there not be new help coming in, anyone who leaves won't be replaced, at least not immediately. Cutbacks by attrition, in short. And if you think that petty criminals don't notice when there are fewer cops on the street, and that there are more opportunities to commit crimes and get away with it, then you probably live in a gated community with your own private security force and aren't the type of person who reads this blog.
The tax cuts are coming home to roost, people, and I hope those of you who got a couple hundred dollars of savings on your property taxes understand just what deal you made for all of us.