Beginning about a month ago, white vans filled with volunteers and community officials took to the street in the late night and early morning hours. These “caravans” are intended to prevent crime by making their concern for safer neighborhoods known.
Community Caravan Night Patrols are made up of volunteers, city officials, and off dut police officers. They pile into vans and patrol the neighborhoods, neighborhoods known for their violent tendencies.
The citizens are not allowed to leave the vehicle and instead drive around, witnessing and being aware. Although the vans are flanked by off duty officers who can stop and investigate a situation if needed, the caravans have their critics.
According to this article from The Star Ledger a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice points out that the volunteer’s time would be far better spent actually out in the communities getting a feel for what can be done to improve the situation.
Although sightseeing from a van doesn’t sound like effective crime prevention, the report states that while the patrols are going on, no murders have occurred in these high crime areas. However, there have been some just before and immediately following the evening caravans.
Police presence has long been considered a deterrent to crime and it’s not clear if volunteer presence has the same effect. However, the program is not costing taxpayers anything and it is expected to continue.
High crime neighborhoods are often wrought with poverty. For many, criminal behavior is something they are raised around and accustomed to. For others, it may be seen as the easiest way to get an income during these tough economical times.
While I understand some of the reasons for criminal behavior, these excuses can’t often be used as a defense in a court of law.
When you are facing criminal charges you need someone who is understanding of your situation but also aggressive in defending your rights. You want a defense lawyer who will listen and then turn around and make something happen.