City Commission Candidate Calls Crime a “Public Health Issue”

City Commission Candidate Calls Crime a “Public Health Issue”

By Karen Murphy

Tallahassee City Commission Seat 1 candidate Dr. Bruce Strouble Jr. recently addressed one of the hottest local issues of the political season, violent crime, saying it should be treated as a “public health issue.”

City Commission Candidate Bruce Strouble

He called for revitalization of poverty-stricken neighborhoods as a tactic for reducing crime in this city which holds the highest crime rate in the state for the second year in a row.

In a recently released opinion piece, Strouble, a Florida A&M University academic advisor, stated increasing the number of police officers per citizen may be a good start, but other steps are needed to solve the problem long-term.

He supports Tallahassee Chief of Police Michael DeLeo’s advocacy for community policing and increasing the number of police officers per citizen, however, “…it is unfair and unwise to expect the addition of new officers to solely result in any significant decrease in major crime. In order to be successful, these efforts must be coupled with additional measures that attack the roots of violent crime in our city.”

He said these roots “are better correlated to poverty, lack of social capital and mental health issues. Attempts to address crime without a focus on these core issues will only serve as a Band-Aid on an infected gunshot wound,” he said.

“First, we must begin to treat crime as a public health issue,” he said.

In an interview with Tallahassee Reports (TR), Strouble explained, “When you have high poverty and environmental issues like the presence of lead (in some of these poor neighborhoods,) it can influence criminal activity. You have a perfect recipe for high crime.”

He said he would address the poverty rate by advocating “equitable development” in high crime areas. “There are no businesses, just big vacant lots and run down homes,” he said. “It is depressing to live in these neighborhoods. We need a community effort to revitalize these areas,” he said.

In his opinion letter, he said, “The physical appearance of several neighborhoods in Tallahassee is conducive for violence because they influence the morale of the communities, making them less resilient. Criminals often identify these areas and they become hot-spots for criminal activity.”

Strouble told TR the City should work with volunteers and church groups to restore buildings and to revitalize those areas. “The City should provide the leadership,” he said. “We also need to provide incentives for employing people and beef up social programs.”

Additionally, Strouble called for increased efforts in rehabilitating past criminals. Strouble wrote, “There must be a focus on re-entry for ex-offenders. If we do not find a way to make them productive members of our communities they are likely to re-offend.”

During his TR interview, he elaborated, “There is a lot of research that suggest that when they are able to re-adjust and establish relationships with their children, recidivism rates decrease. So if we are to get serious about fighting crime we have to give some attention to those who have made mistakes and are looking to get on the right path.”

7 Responses to "City Commission Candidate Calls Crime a “Public Health Issue”"

  1. Another candidate who has hit all the hot button issues in his rhetoric, but has no real knowledge or experience in really solving community issues. “Elect me and I’ll do stuff” is the frequent campaign mantra of candidates who veil their personal ambitions with “I want to serve the community” speeches. Let him go open a business or live in a high crime area and get a taste of the real street issues. Then, maybe, I’ll vote for him.

  2. I think this is a great idea. I think it can’t hurt to help empower some of the programs already in place. Take community gardens – Dunn Street Farm specifically – I know first hand that young people are positively affected by their experience with the farm. They gain mentors, learn skills working the land, and they can take home fresh produce in a good dessert (French Town). I like where Strouble is going with this and I think we can take it a step further. I think we should not only revitalize these communities, but we should also rally around green innovation and sustainability.

    In response to Dennis, we can’t solely focus on the adults in these situations. We have to think about the children in them. It doesn’t take much common sense to realize that many of the adults he’s referring to were once children being raised in the same environment.

    1. The solution always seems to be throwing more money at the poorer neighborhoods, with no expected change from within. This hasn’t produced much of any improvement and I don’t expect any further improvement. In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Of course, the “community leaders” get their skim off the top.

  3. “Poverty stricken neighborhoods”….Really. I am betting the houses are not without A/C, everyone has a cell phone, cable TV and internet access and given all the programs that provide food it would take a really lazy person to go hungry. What is happening is not a public health issue but the fruit of “The Great Society” where responsibility for parenting has shifted from the parent to the government. When a huge percentage of babies are not born out of wedlock and daddies remain home to help raise their children and take care of their home quality of life for everyone will improve…but not before then no matter what social label you put on the problem.

  4. If the people that live in these areas have some investment in their areas, then they will be more willing to work on crime prevention and maintaining the appearance of those areas. They don’t need financial investment necessarily, but since many of them are not gainfully employed and have extra time and receive taxpayer funds, then they can certainly provide the effort to paint, mow, clean, and perform other tasks to improve their neighborhoods.

    This has to happen from within these communities to see results.

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