Last Modified: Thursday, June 07, 2012 6:25 PM
At first glance, an increase in juvenile crime in Lake Charles concerns us, especially with school out and youngsters loose.
We’re concerned at second glance, too.
Lake Charles Police Chief Don Dixon said last week that overall crime citywide was up 1.4 percent last year, but juvenile crime appeared to be considerably worse. There were 252 juvenile arrests in 2011, up from 215 the year before.
Those numbers reflect an increase of 17 percent in arrests, although it may not reflect the same increase in actual juvenile crime. The police themselves may have made more cases that led to arrests, although the incidents in juvenile crimes may have remained level or been less frequent. Or actual juvenile crime may have increased, and the arrests may have risen to reflect such an increase.
The uncertainty seems to permeate neighborhoods hard hit by crime. Our reporters visited Beat 6 — the area has geographic borders of Broad Street, 12th Street, First Avenue and to Kayouchee Coulee — and the numbers showed that 1,364 crimes were reported there last year. One resident said he had not noticed an increase in juvenile crime, but was not surprised by the reported uptick. Another noted that a neighbor’s home had been burglarized — the culprits were young people. It was, she said, “the kind of thing ... where I usually hear a lot about the crime, but I don’t really see it.”
The uncertainty about crime — whether or not juveniles are involved — is what rattles us. Much of the news about crime is based on perceptions, and how we react to crime news is personal. When a home across town is burglarized, it’s concerning. When the house next door is burglarized, we are downright up in arms.
Hearing the hard facts, good or bad, from police helps makes crime more concrete to us. It gives us pause to be careful, to doublecheck our security. That’s not a bad thing.
The police pledge more patrols, targeted enforcement, more citizen contact. Good enough.
Citizens, too, have a role. They must be vigilant about protecting one another, securing their homes, keeping alert and talking with police. It’s all we can do, and what we must do. Then let’s meet again next year. This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,
Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.