After spending so many years in corrections, law enforcement and the study of crime have always been a big part of my life. Anything that pertains to the subject of “law and order” interests and sometimes even fascinates me. This can take many forms, whether it is newspaper articles, television programs, books or the internet. In fact, my wife accuses me of watching nothing but “M&M” on television. No, she is not talking about some cute candy-coated chocolates, but it is an abbreviation for “Murder & Mayhem.”
It is for this reason that I absolutely expect that society, or should I say people, should attempt to adhere to the laws of that society for the betterment of all others. I am not so naive to think that everyone will follow the laws as they are written, because if you look at the number of people who are booked into our regional jail in two months’ time, you would be flabbergasted. I realize there are all kinds of infractions, and not all bookings are of a serious nature and many of those individuals are repeat offenders, but I counted close to 1,700 in that two-month period. That is an average of over 28 arrests per day in our local communities.
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I am not going to address major crime, but we as a community have had our fair share of serious and sometimes violent crime. The murder of one man and police shooting of another man are examples of recent crime in our city. We are not immune to such events, and I believe that there is a criminal element in our city that profits off the sale of narcotics and other criminal activity, that came here as a direct result of the proliferation of the oil fields in western North Dakota. Like the adage, “with the good, comes the bad.” For this reason, I feel that crime is on the increase, but the police chief says that statistically, that crime is down. Maybe that is why 74% of respondents in a recent police survey did not feel that they needed to get involved with a neighborhood watch program, that was being promoted by the police department.
I am always very observant of activity in my neighborhood, especially if it seems out of the ordinary. The local law enforcement cannot be everywhere, and they rely on citizens to be there to not only report crime, but also help prevent it by calling when activity appears to be abnormal. For example, we all hope that our neighbors would report a moving van in our driveway when we are out of town rather than coming home to an empty house.
My wife and I did foster care for 20 years and I feel that we tried to help as many kids as possible. It troubles me, though, that due to crimes against children, that children soliciting for school and other community programs (that come to my door) must wait outside in the cold, while I fetch my billfold. I fully understand, but it still saddens me that this is what society has become. I also feel that schools should look at other means of raising revenue, rather than relying on hundreds of children asked to canvass their neighborhoods.
In closing, I have one observation. There has been a lot said in the local news about persons who run red lights and the attempt to stop or prevent this from happening, with increased pressure by the police. It is a daily occurrence in town and along with distracted drivers, it can be a serious problem. How about raising the penalty to $150 per infraction and have the police concentrate on certain intersections that have high levels of violators. For example, one intersection that I travel through many times a day and that many drivers speed through, is Washington and Expressway.
Bob Cartledge was born and raised in Bismarck and lived here most of his life. He is retired after working close to 30 years for the North Dakota State Penitentiary, where he supervised the Treatment Unit. He was recently a member of the city’s Special Assessment Task Force. He and his wife were therapeutic foster parents for over 20 years with Path of North Dakota. He is an avid hunter, especially upland birds, and a part-time blogger.