Shared Responsibility Only Solution to Social Problems
Chrismas, Bob, Winnipeg Free Press
What does policing have to do with homelessness?
Many people, both inside and outside the policing profession, have strong opinions about how the police should use their limited resources. Police leaders must continually evaluate and be responsive to changing community needs. The public deserves to know government resources are being used effectively.
The policing profession has struggled to balance enforcement and public-safety roles. Enforcement means effective crime investigation and upholding the laws. We need to solve crimes, bring offenders before the courts, deter offenders and gain justice for victims.
The other core mandate, keeping the peace and contributing to public safety, is less tangible but equally important. The police have a role in reducing the causes of crime. This is where we intersect with other service providers such as health, education, economic development, social work and child welfare.
Some have argued the police should only investigate crime and leave the social work to others. However, enforcing laws without addressing the root causes makes many problems worse. For example, we have learned imprisoning gang members only worsens their anti-social behaviour, unless prison terms come with sufficient programming and supports.
Similarly, the corrections system needs to be concerned with child welfare when children in care are becoming future prisoners.
The health-care system needs to be concerned with poverty when it correlates with poor diets and substance-abuse problems that lead to long-term health issues.
The universe is interconnected, and these social problems affect every element of society. Our barrier to working together to address these issues is in our focus of responsibility and the culture of liability in which our modern governance systems are entrenched. When tragic events have occurred in the past, agencies such as the police, child protection and health have often pointed fingers saying, "not our responsibility," and they are all correct. …