It’s hard to say why people are being killed in greater numbers than “usual.” Trouble is the “usual” was too many, and “more” is even more reason to find ways to curb lethal violence. The question is not only why, but what does it do to a neighborhood and to young lives?

On Sunday, July 9, 2017, there was a double homicide at Crawford Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which left a man and woman dead. A couple things are at play, the continued effort to curb violence by coming down on the whole neighborhood, which isn’t working, and a full commitment to community policing which needs to return to the troubled streets.

But, blaming Tulsa Police Department officers is hardly fair nor realistic. We also need more officers of color and specially trained community resource officers to adequately administer community policing.

This is a welcomed beginning, but its needing an infusion of resources. We can no longer rely on meaner dogs, larger guns, bigger prisons and tougher police to bring down crime. Police alone can’t perform their role when there is still an unfair balance of infrastructural efforts as the status quo.

Tulsa Development Authority has hired Carl Bracy to administer the planned Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to stimulate economic development. Jobs are a great social program and they go a long way to solving the stress of living and creating hope. Tulsa streets are an embarrassment of disrepair and drives off economic development.

The war on drugs has become the war on people. More specifically, the war on people of color. The prisons are filled disproportionately with people of color. People in prison are not the end of the problem. The damage of the drug wars to homes, to families, to an air of generational despair is no secret to those they effect but are apparently a complete mystery to those in power.

To that end, the sentencing laws are an issue that guarantees long sentences for people of color and heaps a huge financial burden on the poorest most vulnerable segments of Tulsa communities. That formula is a recipe for crime and despair. Changing it would not end crime but it would stop the unfair effort to address it.

Law makers can do three things: lower sentencing for drugs typical to poor communities; make them the same for richer communities, or lower both. Lowering both and increasing treatment is more humane and saves money. It’s expensive to lock addicts up and only exacerbates the problem. Spending more money to not solve a problem, but in fact make it worse, is a cruel and foolish policy.

Perhaps we should recognize as most police planners do, that people are more likely to kill when temperatures rise. Because no law maker can control the weather, they can be supportive of efforts to put air conditioners in as many homes as possible. We should also encourage federal law makers to make more funds available for energy bills during hot months. To think of it as a way of bringing down crime.

We had a spate of state questions which showed a recognition of what huge populations of drug offenders do to state budgets and Oklahoma families. This wisdom must continue to empty state prisons of Oklahomans who should be in treatment. Addiction remains the number one public health problem in Oklahoma and its estimated that as many as 140,000 need treatment. But, with less than 100 state beds, the current resources are insultingly low.  It is a fatal disease that destroys families’ and is completely treatable.

For the moment, the long hot summer is a tragic recipe for more murder. What can be done while we wait for lawmakers to grow both brains and spines? We can pray.

There are evidences in many metropolitan cities that this works. Crime can go down with the combined might of praying for crime to stop. This doesn’t mean prayer alone, but as the old African saying goes we must “pray then move our feet.”

The joint prayers of hundreds or several thousand Tulsans will bring down crime. Past efforts showed at least a 25 percent decrease in crime. For those who don’t believe these numbers you are welcomed to continue the path we find ourselves on where innocent people are gunned down, mentally ill are gunned down, people whose only crime is that they are people of color are gunned down and people just enjoying a ball game are gunned down.

These proposals will not cost Oklahoma additional millions; they will in fact save millions and improve the quality of life thousands of Oklahoma who now only feel the fierce boot of Oklahoma instead of the its compassionate hand.

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