Violent crime seems to be plaguing us everywhere we care to look. It’s a legitimate problem for many communities. While it hasn’t necessarily risen to 1990s levels, it’s on its way there.
As a result, many mayors are looking at how they can address the problem with the resources they have available to them.
In Reading, Pennsylvania, the mayor is issuing a call to action.
Reading Mayor Eddie Morán issued a statement Wednesday afternoon following the recent acts of gun violence in the City, requesting a “Community Call to Action” from local leaders and organizations.
“Nothing is more important to my Administration than keeping residents safe from senseless violence and restoring peace in our neighborhoods. Senseless violence, especially instances where firearms are used, is wholly unacceptable” said Mayor Morán.
“For this reason, the Reading Police Department has stepped up patrols and community outreach in neighborhoods where we have experienced violence in the last several days and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The RPD took proactive measures to investigate all leads, gather intelligence on suspects and brief my office daily.”
“We need a ‘Community Call to Action’ that includes everyone’s support and participation from non-profit organizations, faith-based communities, and neighborhood associations. If your neighborhood association has been inactive, this is the time to bring it back to life. We cannot do this alone.”
Now, I’m going to give Morán credit, he’s not just issuing a call to action and letting that lie. He’s had his police department step up patrols and increasing interactions in the community, both strategies shown to have a positive impact on reducing crime.
But he’s also putting a lot on groups that may not even be active right now.
Sure, some will spring to life to address the problem, but many others won’t simply because they don’t care. Morán knows this, too. He’s issuing the call not because he necessarily expects results, but because he expects people to see him doing so as being proactive. It looks like he’s doing something, and that something may be enough to protect his political career.
Had Morán simply and directly reached out to community groups and invited them to the table, even if he’d also brought the press, it might come across sincere. Instead, he’s simply telling them, “There’s a table. You should totally come” on blast. Some will come. Others won’t. Nothing will really be accomplished, either.
And that’s the problem with “calls to action.”
Don’t call people to action. Mayors aren’t dictators and many aren’t inspirational leaders, either. They can’t just lead with the wave of their hand and people fall into line behind them. If Morán wants to lead, then lead. Roll up those sleeves and get the hell to work in addressing Reading’s violent crime issue. People are dying and if you think these groups can help, then get down and dirty with them and help them do their work. Help them with what they need.
Or, conversely, do you have a way they can help with proven ideas? That’s fine too, but reach out to the ones who can help specifically and ask them to work with you. Don’t shout out to the room that you need their help just so everyone knows who to blame if you’re unsuccessful.
If you can’t do either of those, shut up and get out of their way. Violent crime is too real of an issue for grandstanding.