We talk with Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard about new initiatives to cut violence in the city.
I was appalled and infuriated listening to this show yesterday on violence in the city with the police chief James Sheppard. Though I appreciate the frustration and challenge that law enforcement confront daily I felt the dialogue between host Bob Smith and Police Chief Sheppard was one that did not delve into the true depth and broader elements at play in violent behavior - c'mon blaming the recent rise in violent crime in our area on "the heat"? Really? And then host Smith referred to when he was young [and i'm paraphrasing here] it was all about fist fights and all anyone came away with was a bruised or injured jaw, but with knives and guns someone could die. Well, Mr. Smith that wasn't the only harm created in that so called "harmless" violence. The psychological damage to the individual and society at large from our misguided acceptance of violent behavior is tremendous.
It is not the tools of violence that are the motivating and destructive forces (though less access to killing apparatuses would definitely lessen fatalities). Entertaining our thoughts of violence are what lead to violent actions. Thoughts are pretty much involuntary acts but it is in how we allow our thoughts to mold us into action and reaction where our behavior can become estranged from common sense and decency.
Sadly, this wasn't the most egregious error on this program. A caller called in and went on what I would describe as racist, classist bigoted commentary that neither the host nor police chief challenged or discredited. The person continued unchecked and hung up and the show moved on without any reference to the caller's condemnation of two cultures. Basically [and again I'm paraphrasing here] the caller said lack of family values was the reason for the violence and that Blacks and Hispanics need to learn not to have children and Black and Hispanic males need to learn how to be fathers. I was aghast first to hear someone say something so blatantly discriminatory on the air but worse yet that it went unchallenged and discredited! Totally disrespectful and indecent on all sides! I was ashamed to be a citizen of this city at that moment. Please, as people in public view, stand up for what is honorable, just and fair. Your presence and analysis on the radio impact a large and broad spectrum of our community - and require a high level of responsibility on your part.