Patrick Sharkey: Keep the Police, but Add a Corps of Problem Solvers

Police are effective in reducing violence, according to Patrick Sharkey. “When there are more police on the street, there’s less violence, and we have very good evidence on that,” Sharkey said during a virtual “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on July 22.

But that is only part of what is needed to make communities safe, Sharkey said. The reliance on police to deal with safety in urban areas has left big inequalities and needs unaddressed. That’s one of the key factors behind the enormous wave of protests since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.

So Sharkey, a professor of sociology and urban affairs at Princeton University and an expert on the value of community efforts in increasing safety, has been calling in places such as the Washington Post and New York Times, for bold experiments in new ways to help neighborhoods.

That led to Sharkey’s online conversation with Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. Sharkey has done consulting in Milwaukee in recent years and has visited Marquette Law School twice previously.

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SBA Statement in Support of BLM and Against Racial Injustice

Logo of Student Bar AssociationTo Our Peers, Professors, And Administrators:

Marquette University Law School Student Bar Association writes to you today to address the tragedy that we as a community and a country have faced in the last three weeks. Not one of a pandemic, but rather the state-sanctioned murders of Black Americans. Namely, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless others. Their deaths are not novel, and we would be remiss to categorize them as such. Their deaths are the tragic manifestation of a long-standing system of racial oppression that continues to unjustly claim the lives of Black Americans.

We want to be loud and exceptionally clear: SBA believes Black Lives Matter. We are an anti-racist organization, and we condemn every form of racism. We stand in solidarity with the members of the Black Law Student Association, the Black community of Marquette University, and the Black community around the world. 

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Once We Know, We’ll Know What To Do

In a Facebook post last Saturday, after reading “What protesters say is fueling their anger,” I wondered what I could do to help eliminate racism, which is causing so much harm to our collective humanity.  I wasn’t sure what to do first.

As a law professor and member of the Sports Lawyers Association (including 2 years as its president and 18 years on its board of directors) for 30+ years, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know and work with many persons of color as students and professional colleagues.  I’ve become friends with many of them.  During the past couple days, I learned that I didn’t know some of them very well.

On Sunday, I read a Facebook post by a former student stating: “Black people need your empathy. Put yourself in my shoes. I jog nearly everyday in the suburbs of North Dallas, but I run with my dog because I know that I somehow appear ‘less intimidating’ to the general public as a black man running with our family pet. . . . I have three kids – two of which are boys. I fear the day that I am forced to have the conversation with them that many Americans see them as a threat simply because of the melanin in their skin. . . . [O]ver the summer before I went to college, I had a police officer pull a gun on me in the 90s when he pulled me over simply because he said I didn’t ‘belong in this neighborhood’ where I actually grew up. He said ‘give me a reason’ to pull the trigger. I was merely a teenager with a gun pointed at the left side of my head during a traffic stop. I recall that day like it was yesterday.”

I responded: “Very sorry you personally experienced such horrifying racism (like so many others). It’s appalling, and NO human being should be subjected to and have to live in fear of it happening again! I hear you and strongly agree that racism must be publicly condemned, most especially by whites.”

He replied: “Thank you. I appreciate your awareness of the situation. . . . Have an intentional conversation with your own friends and family, on my behalf.”

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