Palm Beach County, Florida’s homicide total has almost doubled this year — 49 in the first six months, compared with 27 in the first six months of 2005, says columnist Howard Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw assures us that if you live in nice gated communities and your best friends aren’t gang-bangers, you have no reason to be nervous. “Generally, good people don’t have to worry,” Bradshaw said. “These are bad people doing things to other bad people.”
Goodman sais you can never be sure there won’t be a stray bullet, like the one that killed a landscaper in August. What we’re seeing is part of a national trend that should be alarming to all of us, Goodman says. He quotes this week’s report by the Police Executive Research Forum, in which polic chiefs report a crisis unfolding in the poorest parts of cities, where a thug mentality, reinforced and glamorized by today’s pop culture and marked by a cold viciousness, “is threatening what little stability these neighborhoods have.” The familiar explanations: too many kids dropping out of school, turning to the drug-dealing streets; too few fathers, too little social structure; police resources being shifted from crime fighting to homeland security, and a proliferation of handguns.