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Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

What is it with usually rational people who refuse to see the obvious?

Mayor Sam Katz had hardly finished announcing a beefed-up police presence in the William Whyte district when the usual knee-jerk pundits were elbowing each other out of the way in their rush to pronounce the initiative a foregone failure.

"This is smoke and mirrors, folks," sniffed the leader of the pack, Lindor Reynolds, Winnipeg Free Press columnist.

"a band-aid to a wounded North End neighbourhood", derided her colleague, Mike McIntyre.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Operation Clean Sweep, the precursor of Sam Katz's cut-rate North End Initiative aka Operation Light Dusting, was a huge success, the only successful crime-fighting program that anyone can name that did what citizens wanted done.

Community and business spokesmen were unanimous in praising Clean Sweep for making their community visibly safer following its October, 2005 launch.

The 2005 annual report of the Winnipeg Police Service trumpeted the number of arrests made, charges laid and weapons seized during Operation Clean Sweep. Even the far-left Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reluctantly conceded in a State of the Inner City Report: 2006 that:

"In Spence neighbourhood, problems of safety and security are, according to most of those we interviewed, less serious now than a few years ago. This may be attributable to the revitalization of the community being led by the Spence Neighbourhood Association, or it may be attributable to Operation Clean Sweep. Many (but by no means all) of those we interviewed in Spence say they like Clean Sweep because people causing problems in Spence are now less visible, and the police are more visible."

Then some "genius" decided that a program that obviously worked should be dismantled and the previous program that didn't work should be reinstated.

So Operation Clean Sweep was quietly wound down against the wishes of the residents of the West End where its effect was most felt.

Predictably, to quote the 2005 police annual report, "criminal activity spiked as soon as the task force was scaled back at the beginning of 2006."

"Maggie Friesen, president of the Spence Neighbourhood Association, said gang and illegal drug activity is on the upswing once again."

Lindor Reynolds and Mike McIntyre confuse this rebound with the effectiveness of Clean Sweep and the model of zero-tolerance policing.

And they reach into their knee-jerk bag for the all-too-predictable rejoinder.

"Katz needs to start taking a look at the root causes of crime in this city," lectures Reynolds.

Ah, yes. And the rootiest of root causes? Poverty.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Poverty is not a root cause of crime.
There's nothing about being poor that leads people into a life of lawbreaking.

* When Manitoba Public Insurance talks about the best measure to cut auto theft, they don't say raise welfare rates, they say incarcerate the 200 repeat car thieves.

* When Redwood Bridge was closed for repairs, the residents of East Kildonan didn't suddenly become richer, but they did notice the crime rate went down.

* When a group of girls from Norquay School wrote the Governor General pleading for help to clean up their neighbourhood, they didn't ask for better paying jobs for their mommies and daddies. They asked for better police protection.

What's obvious even to children escapes the knee-jerk pundits.

The root cause of crime is criminals.
And the root cause of criminals is a lack of morality.

They haven't been taught right from wrong by their parents, their church or their schools. Or else they were taught and they just don't care.

They don't join gangs to raise money to pay the rent. They don't steal cars to drive their single mothers to work in the morning. They don't sell drugs to raise money for university tuition.

They do it for fun. That's what the pundits can't say.

Because they're too politically correct to admit that there is a clear distinction between right and wrong.

In their world, wrong is such a judgmental term and being judgmental is, well, wrong. In their world, you must be inclusive. And inclusive means accepting all behaviour no matter how repellant. And that means you have to find an excuse for that behavior. Poverty is a good one-size-fits-all excuse.

The pundits never write about the enablers of crime.

The "harm reduction" bodies that go around giving drug addicts free needles so they don't have to share --needles which wind upon the streets where children play and in yards where they threaten decent citizens with infection.

Or the "caring" groups that hand out free condoms to prostitutes to protect them from AIDs, without caring that the used condoms are strewn about in residential areas threating children and decent citizens with the very same infection.

Or the Christian groups that deliver hot coffee and sandwiches to prostitutes on Magnus Avenue and other residential areas so that the "sex-trade workers" can take a break from engaging in sex in public view and enjoy a little pick-me-up, so to speak.

After having all those people catering to them, is it any wonder the drug addicts and street prostitutes develop a sense of entitlement and resent the attitude of homeowners who want them gone?

That's what the police are fighting even as they fight the criminals. Yet the pundits were the first to criticize the police during Operation Clean Sweep for being "too aggressive" in stopping people for questioning.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

When you shine a light on cockroaches, they scurry for their dark holes. Criminals aren't afraid of judges. Or social activists. Or even newspaper reporters.

They are afraid of police.

The city spends a lot of money maintaining sidewalks and street lighting, so people who walk down back lanes should expect to be stopped.

People with jobs or who go to school aren't usually found walking the street at 3 a.m. People on the street at pub-closing time are not breaking the law, but they should expect to be stopped.

People can legally wear the clothes they want, but if you're wearing gang bandanas or Support the Hells Angels t-shirts, you're demonstrating that you identify with the values of these groups, and you should expect to be stopped.

If you're on parole, on probation, or on the street with a criminal record, you've demonstrated a propensity to commit crimes, and you should expect to be stopped. Quit whining. You should have thought of that before you decided on breaking the law.

It's not rocket science. It's common sense, even if the knee-jerk pundits can't see it.

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