Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is chairman of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national organization whose members include sheriffs, police chiefs, prosecutors, U.S. attorneys, and crime victims. They advocate for early childhood education and home-visit programs that help families do what’s necessary for children to succeed. No one in the group is soft on crime, but they are all smart about its causes and cures, says Seattle Times columnist Jerry Large.
This group supports only programs that can show results in hard numbers. They cite numerous studies of programs that work. In Michigan, 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families were randomly assigned to a preschool program. Low-income kids who didn’t get preschool were “five times more likely to have become chronic lawbreakers by age 27.” The group (www.fightcrime.org) has grown from a handful of people to a national lobbying force with 3,000 members. “They [lawmakers] don’t want to be seen as soft on crime,” Kerlikowske said, but having police backing removes that worry. Washington is doing better than most states at adopting programs that work, but only a small portion of the children who need the programs are enrolled. Money is the issue. Kerlikowske and other law-enforcement officials are lobbying for more funding.