I have noticed a number of political candidates are saying that they are for “Public Safety,” but they never define it. So, what does it mean? Does it mean that they want to keep us safe from slipping and falling on the sidewalk? Do they want to keep us safe from dogs running around without leashes? Perhaps they want to build a giant dome over the city to protect us from meteorites falling from the sky. The truth is, it means whatever you want it to mean. Many politicians use this term to allow you to think one thing, while they mean something else entirely.
There is a candidate in a County Supervisor race with a unique definition. He would like to establish smoke-free boundaries of at least 15-25 feet surrounding play areas in Milwaukee County Parks. To quote from his news release,
“If elected I will promote legislation that will create smoke-free outdoor areas surrounding playgrounds in Milwaukee County Parks to protect non-smokers, to reduce tobacco trash, and set a healthy, smoke-free example for our youth.”
Given that a park, by definition, is a play area, this creates some interesting legal questions, but let’s set that aside and ask the larger question: Who is going to enforce this? The Sheriff’s Department has responsibility for county parks. They are already short-staffed and the County Board is looking to cut them even further. Should we devote their already limited resources to enforce an outdoor smoking ban? No, we should not. This is one of many “powder puff” ideas that are put forth to make you feel good, but accomplishes nothing.
I have talked with many people who live around our parks. They shared their experiences with me of serious criminal activity happening in and near our parks. Some have been victims themselves. The fact is that many of our parks have become havens for thugs, gang bangers, drug dealers, perverts & molesters. Although many of these problems are not new, they have become worse in recent years, due to the lack of a regular police presence. This has emboldened the criminal element to step-up their activity. This needs to stop.
The #1 job of government is to arrest and punish criminals. The Sheriff’s Department and Department of Corrections needs to have the resources it needs to arrest and detain criminals. The best way to protect our parks and the law-abiding citizens that use them is to arrest the thugs, gang bangers, drug dealers, perverts & molesters, prosecute them to the full extent of the law and put them in jail.