While perusing news sites I saw that another home invasion occurred in Youngstown. Earlier in the day I was thinking about the jobs speech President Obama will give tonight and BAM, a light bulb went off. Remember the COPS program that was so successful in the 1990's and the early 2000's? Community Oriented Poilicing? I think it's time to bring it back on a grand scale as part of an integrated plan to rescue cities such as Youngstown, Detroit and Buffalo.
We clearly have many problems that negatively affect urban cities in the United States so why not attack a few at once? What I'm suggesting is an approach with four main points:
- Cease operations this year in Afghanistan and bring the troops home. It's been ten years, Al-Qaeda is out of the country and we've spent enough money and lost enough lives. Get these people out of harm's way and bring them back here where some of their training can be put to use. Also, this frees up an enormous amount of money to use on the other three points. For instance...
- Reduce the number of blighted properties in cities. This is an infrastructure project that doesn't require nice weather. Take some of our peace dividend money and use it to hire construction firms to knock down abandoned homes. Municipalities have done the hard work of identifying abandoned properties and created land banks to take possession. Now the cities need the resources to remove the structures. This may also decrease available housing stock and help the real estate market.
- Hire police to secure the neighbohoods currently under siege. We have plenty of good people trapped in bad neighborhoods. These are people who only leave their houses when necessary. We'll have plenty of soldiers who may want to pursue law enforcement as a career and they'll have experience with securing an area from hostile entities. This one is a no-brainer.
- Hire teachers and provide training for those needing it. One of the great points made in Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers was that many of the soldiers profiled in the book came back to the United States and became teachers, engineers and builders. After seeing so much destruction they were eager to build and help others. We should take that discipline they have and their ability to adapt to difficult situations and transition it right into teaching and building. One of the reasons employers don't come to our area is because they claim we have an ill prepared workforce. Well, let's create a wave of teachers, professionals and tradesmen who can lead others. Then make education a requirement of public assistance and train a workforce that potential employers will desire.