Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fire Trucks to Fight Crime

CrimProf Blog has a curious story:

San Francisco Mayor Proposes Firetrucks on Corners to Deter Crime On Monday, at a City Hall meeting with police and fire chiefs, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested that parking fire trucks, manned with firefighters who aren't responding to emergency calls, on street corners of crime-prone areas could be a viable crime deterrent for the city to explore.

Mayor Newsom's idea comes in response to an increased crime rate in San Francisco. The city has 19 reported homicides so far in 2005, whereas at this time last year, there were only 13, and Mayor Newsom wants to take more action to reduce these violent crimes. reports: "(Mayor Newsom said), 'I think the homicide rate is outrageous. This is my biggest burden.' He said the city needs to look beyond traditional policing and consider creative tactics, such as putting fire trucks on the streets. There already are plans in the works to park city ambulances in outlying neighborhoods later this year so they can respond to calls faster."

Firefighters union chief John Hanley agreed that the visible presence of fire trucks on corners may prevent some crime, but raised safety concerns. "We're firefighters. We're not armed. My guys don't have bulletproof vests,'' Hanley said. More from the San Francisco Chronicle... [Mark Godsey]

Mayor Newsome and myself have not always seen eye to eye when it comes to enforcing law (*ahem* gay weddings), but I have to at least give him credit here: He's trying something. It sounds a little crazy, a little bizarre, but he is thinking outside the box, and I like it.

That having been said, I have to wonder why fire trucks are going to deter crime. I could see if it was something like extra police cars would be put in high crime areas, but fire trucks? What are they going to do, spray muggers with the hose? Attack them with the axe? Send the dalmation after the bad guys? I mean, I just don't understand why the firemen are the ones having to maintain a security presence. I sympathize with the union chief. Not only are they unarmed and unprotected, I don't think they are even trained in fighting and tactics. I am very curious to see how this goes.

I suppose the main thing they have is contact with emergency services. They can immediately radio dispatch if they see a crime or something. Also, I guess criminals will be wary around anyone in uniform. Not to mention, firefighters are always very buff and dashing, so they have that going for them too.

Mayor Newsome, I hope your plan works!


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