William J. Healy, II has not had much to crow about since becoming mayor of Canton on January 01, 2007.
But crowing he is these days.
Crowing about what?
Careful to share credit with Canton's safety force unions, Healy appeared on Q92's "DeLuca in the Morning" show with Dean L. McKimm (Canton's police chief) this past Monday morning, Healy provided Pat with an "exclusive" first hearing of the new Canton crime data.
The SCPR thanks DeLuca for providing a tape of the interview for The Report's examination.
In the opinion of the SCPR, the tape reveals that Healy has not changed. He is spin, spin and yet more spin.
The SCPR believes that the main reason for the decrease is a federal grant of $299,000 that Canton received from from the Northeast Ohio Violent Crime Consortium (NOVCC). Because of the grant "police [were able to conduct] gang surveillance, drug enforcement raids, illegal gun busts, highway interdictions, arrest warrant sweeps, and patrols of vacant homes" (quoted material excerpted from a city of Canton press release).
It is interesting to note that Healy did not mention that the grant ran out in September or October, 2009 (according to Healy spokesman Adam Herman) to DeLuca on air (unless yours truly missed something).
As The Report sees it, the federal money is critical to maintaining increased police action in Canton and though Herman says that the Healy administration thinks it can keep crime going down anyway because crime continued to go down - according to the Healy communications director - in the last quarter of 2009. Here are Herman's words of optimism:
[W]e are optimistic that the targeted enforcement efforts will continue having their intended effect even if no additional funds are immediately available.The SCPR's read of the DeLuca tapes is that Healy was determined to be positive and optimistic notwithstanding that chronic crime is still occurring daily in Canton. He cited a couple of anecdotal tales which he claims is proof that Canton is turning dramatically safer. Police Chief McKimm supported Healy on his contention that Canton is much, much more safe than it has been in some time.
And the SCPR hopes that Healy, et al are correct in his expectation that crime is going to continue to slide dramatically. However, yours truly is skeptical.
DeLuca hit on an important point in the interview. "What is the [public] perception of Canton," he asked.
Chief McKimm said he does not subscribe to the notion that "perception is reality." But then he went on to talk about how much safer it is to be in Canton at night than he has been in modern times. What's that kind of talk but a try to frame perception?
The Chief says he only deals with reality.
In the world of reality there still were 6,866 serious offenses in Canton in 2009 (including a marked increase in homicides and a slight increase in rapes). Where did the crimes occur? Out in the 8th and 9th wards? Probably not. Most likely, inner or core city, no?
Undoubtedly, the McKimm was playing to the Healy effort to put a rosy face on the safety factor of downtown Canton. Kind of interesting in light of a move by the Healy administration to undermine Chief McKimm when Tom Nesbitt was safety director.
How about the 600 to 900 gang members frequenting the streets of Canton that McKimm mentioned to DeLuca. Bet most Cantonians did not know about that number.
For the SCPR, 6,866 crimes brought to police attention constitute unsafe conditions anyway you want to spin that number.
It is good that crime is going down, but nearly 7,000 crimes still occuring is hardly something to be cheering about.
And things are better than in the Creighton and Watkins administrations.
However, the campaign ballyhoo of zero tolerance hardly connotes accepting thousands of crimes a year as a harsh reality that one learns to live with.
Not at all.
Zero tolerance suggests that crime will be much lower than 500 plus a month on average or to put it in another context: about 20 per day. And those are just the reported crimes. Think there might not be a significant "unreported" crimes factor?
Healy was so ebullient on the DeLuca program about the statistical decrease that he generated a remembering of President Bush's Mission Accomplished to The Report.
As we all know, the celebration was foolhardy and adversely affected the credibility of the Bush administration because much remained to be done.
Correspondingly, there is much to be done in Canton. In making too much of the decrease in Canton's crime numbers, the SCPR believes all Mayor William J. Healy, II achieved with the pomp and circumstance was to set himself up to have his already damaged credibility take yet another hit!