Pubdate: Thu, 14 Nov 2002
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2002 The Oak Ridger
Author: Rachel Sewell Nesteruk


To The Oak Ridger:

In 1999, I was robbed at gunpoint while delivering a pizza. The person who 
threatened to kill me was never arrested. The investigation consisted of 
the officer who took my report driving around the neighborhood where it 

Sadly, most victims of violent crime have a similar experience to mine. In 
Knoxville, only 16 percent of murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated 
assaults, burglaries, larcenies and auto thefts are solved.

Things are much better in Oak Ridge, where fully 24.4 percent of murders, 
rapes, robberies, kidnappings, aggravated assaults, burglaries and auto 
thefts end in arrest.

Why is there such a low rate of arrest for these crimes when forensic 
science is so advanced?

What can be done to bring justice to the thugs who stalk Oak Ridge with 
impunity? I believe the answer lies in shifting police resources towards 
solving these crimes and away from enforcing the unwinnable "War on Drugs."

After all, during the same time that 325 serious and violent crimes went 
unsolved in Oak Ridge, 200 people were arrested for drug offenses, which is 
97.5 percent of crimes reported in this category.

According to The Sentencing Project (using Department of Justice 
statistics) 75 percent of drug prisoners have been convicted of a 
non-violent offense. Also, 80 percent of drug prisoners are 
African-American or Hispanic, despite usage rates of 13 percent and 9 
percent respectively.

Why are we wasting our valuable police resources in pursuing people who 
are, for the most part, only hurting themselves?

Until the statistics for solving violent crimes improve drastically, I 
don't think any officers in the Oak Ridge Police Department should be 
assigned to programs that focus on the War on Drugs. There are simply more 
important crimes out there that our dedicated officers should be tackling.

Rachel Sewell Nesteruk

Oak Ridge
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