As we approach the Spring Election in April many issues are bandied about in an attempt to link a candidate with voters. In the Madison race for mayor and a wide array of aldermanic contests crime and policing are often topics being presented for answers from those on the ballot. While those who commit illegal actions make headlines the fact is the fear of crime outpaces the actual data of what is happening in our communities.
When it comes to the top-of-the-fold crimes that get attention the statistics from Madison are heading in the right direction. The city saw six homicides in 2022, 40% fewer than the previous year; shots fired calls were also down 39%. It goes without saying there has been a raft of car thefts and wayward teenagers who seem hellbent on making for a mugshot rather than an honor roll lineup. Even then the data proves stolen vehicle cases were down 12% and home and vehicle break-ins fell 33%. But when it comes to the city as a whole it is not improper to say that for the general population, the crime rate should not be the first or second concern that roils voters at the polls.
We recall the stem-winding rhetoric that led up to the midterm election in 2022 with Fox News decrying violence up and down their broadcast day. But then a funny thing happened once the balloting ended.
With the vote over, however, the rightwing news channel appeared to decide things weren’t that bad after all, and decreased its coverage of violent crime by 50% compared with the pre-election average.
I faulted the Republican rhetoric at the time on my CP Facebook page as far more about election ranting than most of the nation experienced. I noted in November 2022 that what occurred starting in 1829 still resonated. President Andrew Jackson was going to root out the corruption and rot that had been placed into the governmental offices by sacking those appointed by former President J. Q. Adams. But historians have discovered that in the Tennessean’s first term, he removed only 1 in 11 officeholders. Clearly, with that evidence, the use of hyper-based rhetoric for political aims far exceeded any actual abuse in departments of the federal government. Repeat and rinse.
While I had my lawn sign firmly planted for Gloria Reyes prior to the Madison Professional Police Officers Association making their endorsement and understanding that some locales in Madison have economic and social issues that are meshed with crime statistics it bears repeating that we need to stay true to the data. Our city always has room for improvement, like putting body cams on every officer and making sure there is a resource officer in every high school. We know that any criminal act is absolutely out of bounds. But let us not drift away from another fact. We have a city we can be proud of and no candidate for any office should try to paint it otherwise.