Teachout Security Solutions


Despite Headlines, Local Efforts Make 2015 a Safer Year

Looking back at 2015, many newsgroups showed events like the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, terrorist attacks in San Bernandino or the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina as proof of a year of violent escalation. One viral story reported there was more than one “mass shooting” for every day of the year. Despite the tragic headlines, facts show that 2015 was not anymore dangerous or violent than the years prior.

Statistics taken annually by the FBI actually prove the opposite, with total violent crime rates down 1.6% and murder and manslaughter rates down by 2% since last year. Robbery rates also fell by 6.7% and burglary dropped 11.5%. This drop in crime has not been short-term, either; since 1991, U.S. violent crime rates have dropped by almost 50%. Explanations for the aggregate drop in crime are diverse, though many explanations attribute an increase in supervision, surveillance and preventative measures. Local and national agencies across the world are examining what works and what doesn’t, to continuing making schools, businesses and communities safer.

One part of the solution is small-scale efforts made by local businesses, non-profits and security groups. A study through Duke University examined the efforts of private security guards in “business improvement districts” in Los Angeles—areas where private organizations pooled funds for extra safety measures. Between 1997 and 2008 the study discovered an 11% drop in crime in 30 of the districts. “The bottom line here is we have a reduction in crime — a reduction that is closely associated with the expenditure of private security money,” said criminologist Philip J. Cook, one of the experts compiling the report. “It seems like a terrific accomplishment.”

Another study conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology examined the efficacy of security cameras in deterring and preventing crime. While evidence showed that security cameras were powerful tools in an overall crime reduction and prevention system, they could not work independent of other considerations. Though the cameras worked in the short-term, many offenders became desensitized to the cameras and committed crimes anyway, or took measures to avoid the surveillance (wearing masks, using camera blind-spots, hiding in crowds). Other areas experienced a displacement effect, simply moving offenders to other areas. Ultimately, the people behind the cameras determined their efficacy—how the cameras were placed, who was watching the feed and how the film was used.

While some tragic events continue to appall communities and law enforcement, the ultimate prevalence of violent crime, and crime in general, is falling, thanks to determined efforts made by police, criminologists, citizens and private security firms. With ongoing diligence, crimes rates will continue to drop and even calamity headlines may become a thing of the past.

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