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For as long as the human civilization has existed, there have always been those members of the society who have engaged in criminal activities. These misdeeds which affect the rest of the community negatively have resulted in the formation of the police force and other agencies charged with combating crime.
While this apparatus have had a favorable impact in reducing crime, they are not enough to solve the crime problems of the community. For this reason, Local Crime Prevention groups have sprung up all over the country to help in the reducing of local crime. Local Crime Prevention is based on the understanding that police and other government agencies alone cannot control crime in the country and the members of the community must play an active role in mitigating crime levels in their locality.
Most of these crime prevention groups have programs which articulate the purpose of the group, and teach the members useful skills in crime fighting or prevention in their community. This paper will perform an elaborate analysis on one local crime prevention program in America. The paper will them proceed to discuss the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the program as well as the moral astuteness of the program.
Crime Prevention Program Name
The name of the program is Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University and it is open to the residents of Colonial Heights, Virginia. This program is especially structured for the senior citizens and is based on the fact that older people are more fearful of crime as compared to the other members of the community. O’Block, Donnermeyer and Doeren (2001) hypothesize that the reason for this accentuated fear is the perception by the older people that crime has a greater impact on them, both physically and/or economically.
Components of the program
This program is offered free of charge to senior citizens (persons aged 55 years and older) who reside in Colonial Heights or operate businesses in the location. The program is jointly sponsored by the Colonial Heights TRIAD, Colonial Heights Police Department, and Colonial Heights Sheriff’s Office (Colonial Heights Police, 2010).
The program runs for 8 to 10 weeks and is arranged into 13 sessions, which cover various aspects of life that may be relevant for the participants, ranging from; police work, emergency services, legal issues, fire fighting to neighborhood watch and other important issues pertaining crime.
Owing to the expansive nature of the lessons taught in the Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University, there are a number of varying professionals who engage in the tutorage. The Colonial Heights Police Department in particular plays a very significant role in lessons regarding the role of law enforcement in the city.
The police also provide information on Neighborhood Watch and other neighborhood programs which the attendees of the SCCPU program can join. The senior citizens are also advised on how to go about beginning such programs in their neighborhoods. In court and legal matters, the program invites a Colonial Heights Bar Association member who addresses the legal topics such as wills, estate planning and trusts.
The session on fire fighting is covered by the personnel from the Colonial Heights Fire and EMS. Health professionals are also part of the trainers in the SCCPU. They provide information on conditions such as mental health that the seniors are prone to and emphasis on potential victimization that may occur to those affected. The attendees are also given training on offering Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation.
Philosophy and goals of the program
No police department can function effectively without the concerned assistance of responsible citizens (Fennelly, 2003). For this reason, the police department of Colonial Heights together with other relevant stakeholders provides local crime prevention classes for the senior citizens for the mutual benefit of all the parties involved. The main rationale for this program is the fact that senior citizens are obvious targets of crime due to their age (Walsh, 2000).
The vulnerability that is inherent in most senior citizens makes them especially prone to crimes such as: fraud, scams, physical assault to name but a few. The purpose of the program is to empower the senior citizens so as to reduce the odds of their falling prey of these crimes. The program makes the participants more aware of their surrounding which results in lower crime rates perpetrated against them.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Program
One strength of this program is that it empowers the senior citizens by giving them vital information which helps them to prevent crime by making them more aware. Having awareness of preventive techniques can help an individual to spot a potential crime situation and therefore take measures to remove the risk or at the least reduce its risk (NCPC, 2010).
The program also boasts the esteem of the senior citizens since they no longer feel week and vulnerable as a result of the knowledge that they gather from the program. The program also equips the participants to start up their own neighborhood crime prevention programs which assist the communities from which they hail. In addition to crime prevention, the program covers issues such as drafting of wills and establishing of trust funds. This is very vital information for the senior citizens as it helps them plan their lives better.
Arguably the biggest weakness of the program is the age restriction that it imposes on its participants resulting in only senior citizens being eligible to the program. This is a setback since the senior citizens (who are mostly the vulnerable members of the society) cannot form bonds with other members of the community who can greatly assist in crime prevention.
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In addition to this, the resource pool for the senior citizens is restricted to the old people and as such they lack an opportunity to learn of current trends of crime from the younger generation who may be more exposed to it.
Ethically, the program offered by Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University is sound. This is because they present material that is relevant to the participants. Information such as; wills, trusts and power of attorney is relevant to the senior citizens who are most likely to be drafting wills or setting up trusts for their children.
The lessons on fraud are also relevant since the senior citizens are targeted by confidence tricksters. Achieving this is simple since all the participants are in the same age bracket as well as residents of the same community. The teachers are also locals which mean that the likelihood of a breach of conduct due to ignorance on the local norms or tradition is minimized. Also, most of the subject matter covered in the teaching is of a non-controversial and non-sensitive therefore making ethics a non issue.
Effectiveness of the program
The popularity of the programs offered by Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University in Colonial Heights is phenomenal. This can be deduced from the fact that all the classes that are offered are booked to capacity (Colonial Heights Police, 2010).
This demonstrates that the senior citizens of Colonial Heights are convinced of the practicality of the lessons offered in the programs and therefore ensure that they are a part of the lessons. Correa reveals that the seniors feel empowered as a result of the program therefore accentuating its effectiveness.
In addition to the benefits that the senior citizens gain from the program, the police force also gains in terms of improved public relations. Correa (2010) reveals that the program brings about interaction of the policemen with the citizens therefore fostering a cordial relationship as well as a positive outlook of the police force and their work by the members of the public. This makes the work of the police more effective since they have the support of the senior residents of Colonial Heights.
This paper set out to give an analysis of a crime prevention group program. To achieve this, an analysis of the Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University has been undertaken. The components of this program, its philosophy, goals and its strengths and weaknesses have been highlighted.
From the information presented herein, it is evident that the program is highly successful in achieving its primary goals and as such, many senior residents in Colonial Heights have participated in the program. This paper has shown that the Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University is responsible for reducing the chances of seniors becoming victims of crime.
However, the program has a weakness in that it does not accommodate other members of the society (other than the seniors) therefore reducing its effectiveness and impact on the society. Despite this setback, the program has a lot of advantages and makes a positive contribution in not only dealing with crime against the senior citizens but also in improving the quality of their lives.
Colonial Heights Police (2010). Senior Citizens Crime Prevention University. Web.
Correa, M. (2010). Senior Citizens Learn About Police Department. NBC News. Web.
Fennelly, L. J. (2003). Handbook of Loss Prevention and Crime Prevention. Butterworth-Heinemann.
National Capital Planning Commission (2010). Senior Citizens. Web.
O’Block, L, R., Donnermeyer, J. F. & Doeren, S. E. (2002). Security and Crime Prevention. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Walsh, B. (2000). Crime Prevention: A Shared Responsibility. Brooking Institute Press.