Those with the power and responsibility to look after the public’s safety are faced with a task of epic proportions. The job is never done, and any progress seems to eventually roll back down the proverbial hill.
So seems the last year of crime in Madison. After fending off a heroin epidemic, Madison has seemed to hit a patch of other violent downtown crimes, with five incidents occurring last weekend. Crime happens often and will never be fully stopped, but that does not mean we should not look at its root causes and most effective mitigating solutions.
This board believes curbing violent crime should be a priority for the city in general, and not just when there is a looming heroin epidemic. After an aggressive campaign over the summer, it is not necessarily evident this is the case. While eliminating the nuisances from State Street is beneficial, we would hope that Mayor Paul Soglin and the Common Cuncil would be more vocal with crime-deterring efforts.
This is not to say Common Council is doing nothing. Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, recently led efforts to add more lighting on University and Frances Streets. And Verveer also lauds the Downtown Safety Initiative as particularly effective, and it should be continued, evaluated and, if possible and necessary, expanded in the future.
We suggest the ASM Legislative Affairs Committee work with the city to advance the needs of our students’ safety. It has been fairly evident that the committee’s state and national-level lobbying efforts are not particularly useful. But past lobbying to the city has been; see the change it helped get made for the Mifflin Street Block Party.
But what should ASM and Legislative Affairs be trying to do?
For starters, its members should be continually putting pressure to light areas of downtown. Lighting, as Verveer told The Daily Cardinal, is a good crime deterrent. Are there other equally useful actions? They should find out.
ASM should also be directing students toward crime prevention programs, including the new UHS Tonight sexual assault course. The more that students know and understand crime, the safer and more helpful they will be in sticky situations.
But students should also start stepping up to protect themselves. If you feel up to it, take a self-defense course or the Tonight course. As always, students should be smart, safe and with a group when they go out on the town, especially when drinking; most crimes are committed against people who are alone late at night. Know the SAFEWalk boundaries, which lie west of the Capitol. We do not want to sound like your mothers, but just remember to make wise decisions. It is an unfortunate thing that we need to alter our behavior to avoid criminal activity, but students can afford the hassle to keep themselves safer.
Crime in Madison seems to be rising and, to put it simply, there is too much of it. This is especially true in areas heavily visited by students, like Langdon Street and downtown. The city should continue its efforts surrounding lighting and police engagement. ASM Legislative Affairs should be pressuring them to expand those efforts. With the city budget possibly leading to less police, it is a necessity to keep a watchful eye on this situation, lest all the efforts made in this never-ending task roll back and cause even more problems.
Do you know any helpful tips or tricks students could use in order to stay safe on or off campus? Please send all letters and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.