Praise Given Where Praise Is Due
I tend to be fairly negative on this blog (that’s what happens when you’re an ugly cynic like me), so it’s important for me to recognize good work when praise is due.
For better or worse, St. Louis has a dangerous reputation. It routinely ranks near the top of the list in those annual “America’s Most Dangerous Cities” publications, and is repeatedly portrayed in the entertainment media as crime-ridden (I’m looking at you, Chevy Chase).
But the St. Louis police department has really made some important strides during the past several years (and this comes from a repeat area crime victim). Since 2000, crime has decreased by about 2.5 percent per year on average, in both absolute and per-capita terms. And the metropolitan police department has gone to great lengths to make city crime data readily available to the city’s citizens.
For example, Safe City (which went online earlier this year, I believe) is a great interactive tool put together by the St. Louis police department that lets users research an address or neighborhood by reported crime incidents. You can search for particular types of crimes and even pull up a basic outline of the original police report. And the police department also publishes a monthly crime report on its website in case you’re weird like me and would rather look at numbers than pictures.
I even love Safe City‘s mission statement:
Safe City is based on the idea that in a democracy, people should have the greatest possible access to information about matters affecting their lives.
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the idea of making information readily available to the public played a large role in the development of the Show-Me Institute’s newest website, Show-Me: Living. You might already be familiar with our tax estimator on that site. But we’ve recently released some new tools on public school education performance as well. We plan to continue to provide our visitors with new tools for understanding public policy issues in an effort to help Missourians make the best possible decisions for their lives.
But the real point of this post is to say that the St. Louis police department should be commended for its efforts to improve safety in the city, and for its commitment to working with the public to provide useful information about the city’s crime statistics. A better-informed public makes for a stronger democracy.