Stability is the key to maintaining public safety
I believe that stability is the key to maintaining public safety. It’s my view that communities that have longstanding residents, businesses, schools, houses of worship, civic events, sports teams and leagues have more stability and a better chance of having less violent crime.
A house stands proudly on a strong, stable foundation. When a family lives in a home for decades, there is a pride of place that makes them act as stewards, not only of their home, but their neighborhood and their town.
Farmers are connected to the land they farm. It’s not like a farmer can suddenly pick up and move their place of business—or live far from it. Consequently, when a municipality has a group of farmers in it, they tend to be stable residents and businesspeople, again often living and working in the same community for many decades.
The longstanding connection between the people who work the land and the land itself makes farmers care more deeply about the place where their farms are located. They talk about what is happening in their hometown every day and take an active interest in just about everything that happens.
They’re not alone—from teachers to shopkeepers, restaurant owners to municipal employees, the rank and file of people who live and work in a stable municipality form legions of what the journalist and author Jane Jacobs referred to as “eyes on the street.” These are people who take a vested interest in the town, and intercede on behalf of the interests of stability, particularly when faced with forces that would create instability and a negative impact.
Caring more about a place creates more stability. So does living in one place, raising a family, becoming involved in the overall community, the schools, the civic life. When you are more connected to the overall community where you live, you are more likely to take action to make sure it is a safe place.
Consequently, that active interest by a place’s residents becomes a large part of why a municipality does not see violent crimes as much as a municipality that is unstable. In unstable communities, breakdowns in connectivity make it harder to have those “eyes on the street” and there are more opportunities for violent crime to occur.
So what are the building blocks of stability?
The first is having a population of people who make it a daily mission to make sure they are deeply connected and actively interested in the place where they live. These are the people who dedicate themselves to making their location—wherever it may be—a place they and others can look to with pride.
Secondly, there must be a long-term investment from every stakeholder to constantly improve the area through their actions, dollars and words. It isn’t enough to write a check or send money some other way. There must be a commitment level that says “we are going to make this right” each day.
Lastly, long-time residents must communicate the institutional memory and “pride of place” to new residents, so that there is continuity across the decades. There are many methods and contact points where this can be done. Churches, schools, civic clubs, sports leagues and teams, the business community and anywhere people gather are opportunities for residents who have been here for many years to interact with residents who moved here a month ago. When the two groups come together, new links are added in a chain that stretches back generations.
Stability is critical to make sure public safety is maintained in any place, because stability creates a climate where people want to take positive actions and prevent negative actions from happening.
A final note: Read the spring edition of The Hammontonian Magazine in this week’s edition. Our team has done an outstanding job on the publication. Thank you to the readers and advertisers who make it all possible!
Gabriel J. Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.