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The Dark Figure - Parallels between Crime Theory and Politics

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I've been thinking about this for some time, and I wanted to hear some thoughts.

During college, I focused most of my studies on the subject of crime theory, leading to my degree in Criminal Justice.

In crime theory, there is a pervasive issue known as the Dark Figure. The dark figure represents all the crime that occurs, but is not reported, due to, for example, failure of victims to report, inefficient research procedures, etc.

There is another dark figure, even more impossible to quantify than the first; crime that does not occur.

Expanding criminal justice to include all protective disciplines, for example: loss prevention, security, asset protection, executive protection, etc. - we can include more illustrative examples.

Proactive policies more often result in the presence of the darker figure. For example, an asset protection coordinator who employs generally proactive policies - such as highly visible security measures, preventative measures, etc. - will generally have greater success in protecting assets.

However, if that person were to employ more reactive procedures, focusing more on apprehending thieves, or taking reports on loss or shrink that has already occurred, he would have much more to report to those who hold his employ.

So, although proactive strategies are generally much more successful in the protective arena - preventing crimes before they happen, preventing loss before it happens, actively protecting assets - these strategies leave the persons employing them with nothing to report...nothing to quantify, nothing to put in charts or graphs, nothing to show that they are doing their job.

As a person who works in a related field, it can be frustrating. You find yourself having to find ways to justify your existence to superiors who, in many cases, do not understand the strategies you employ. How can you report to them the thefts that did not occur this quarter? Or the loss that was prevented?

I think we can consider the government...federal and otherwise, as a larger protective entity. That's the way it was designed, anyway, to protect your rights...to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And thinking of it that way, I wonder if people in the political arena, specifically active government officials, don't suffer from this same symptom. I wonder if they don't feel a need to justify their existence with quantity....figures, charts, graphs, etc...to show they they are doing something and that there is a need for their existence.

Some time ago, "people," (not sure what people) were saying that we had a "do nothing," congress. To me, this was a good sign. A proper government would not be proactive. The founding fathers already took the proactive steps, to lay the foundation for a governing body that could act to REACT to threats to its citizens' rights, lives, well being, etc. So, if our congress was doing "nothing," they were properly doing their job; waiting and staying vigilant for threats.

I think, at least in part, that this gross misunderstanding of the role of government is what lead to our near-trillion dollar bailout fiasco. If there are no threats to the rights of citizens (or more accurately, if the government is the source of said threats) how is a government official to show his constituency that there is a bonafide need for his position?

How else, but by creating a problem, and solving it?

Not unlike how a loss prevention agent, concerned about his job, might ask a friend to steal and hide some product so that he can "recover" it.

Or a concerned police officer might call in a bomb threat, just to give him and his co workers a chance to show the mayor that they're good for something.

I think what we have here is a case of firefighters starting fires. And we're all getting hosed.

Comments?

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So, although proactive strategies are generally much more successful in the protective arena - preventing crimes before they happen, preventing loss before it happens, actively protecting assets - these strategies leave the persons employing them with nothing to report...nothing to quantify, nothing to put in charts or graphs, nothing to show that they are doing their job.

I'm not sure this is true, as you can certainly quantify whether or not there has been a *drop* in theft (or whatever). You may not be able to tie it definitely to a single cause, but this type of effectiveness quantification goes on all the time in a number of fields, like, say, marketing.

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I am in the security field, specifically, our company specializes in consruction security. We measure success by the fact that, as a proactive and visible presence, no theft occurs. This indicates that we are doing our job properly. Almost all thefts on job sites are by contractors and employees. It is not uncommon for a contractor to steal material from another site. That they know there is an active security presence on a site makes that an unattractive target.

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I'm not sure this is true, as you can certainly quantify whether or not there has been a *drop* in theft (or whatever). You may not be able to tie it definitely to a single cause, but this type of effectiveness quantification goes on all the time in a number of fields, like, say, marketing.

I agree with Megan. However, the way you measure it is by changing one variable at a time and measuring that. Otherwise, you won't be able to tell what caused what.

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Our family business was burglarized twice. The first time we installed some security measures which, obviously, were not sufficient. The second time we installed better measures (fortified doors, locks, alarms, barred windows among others). We measured success as whether the money spent on such measures cost us less than being robbed again. They did.

Of course we had no one in charge of security (too small a company), so no one had to report to anyone and the problem that concerns you simply didn't arise.

BTW police protection, which is how the government provides protection for individual rights, is largely reactive. It ahs to be, because you can't post a policeman for every person in a given area. To be sure it can be proactive as well. For example when large police contingents are posted at major events.

I also agree that politicians do measure their "success" by what they get "done." That's a failure on many levles on their aprt and that of the general population, who expect government to do things for them.

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BTW police protection, which is how the government provides protection for individual rights, is largely reactive.

I'd almost say its 50/50 per department. I've only worked as an officer for one police department throughout my career, but I've worked with many others, and done research on twice as many.

Some agencies prefer officers to stay "at the ready," simply patrolling their assigned beats or zones waiting to respond to a call. That's reactive.

Others prefer more proactive strategies, such as community oriented policing; whereas, for example, officers would be placed on foot in certain areas and tasked with developing and strengthening relationships with citizens on an individual level. Proactive agencies, of course, also have an emphasis on preventative patrol, both mobile and on foot. But I've seen other agencies go so far as to get involved with cleaning up communities, and even doing landscaping - which is almost directly in line with Wilson & Kelling's "Broken Windows" theory of crime prevention.

I'm not sure this is true, as you can certainly quantify whether or not there has been a *drop* in theft (or whatever).

This is true, but the difficulty comes when you have been using such strategies to great success for some time. As those persons who are in the position to pass judgment on your work performance move on, others might replace them, and wonder...ignorant to the strategies and nature of the job...why they're not seeing any apprehensions, arrests, drug busts, etc.

My thought is that, properly, the citizens of this country are in that position...passing judgment on the performance of our government. Some more ignorant to the proper function of government might wonder why they're not seeing congressmen or legislators or other government officials "doing" anything...that is, fixing any "problems" or finding solutions.

If it was all done properly in the first place, and kept that way, ideally there would be no solutions to find or problems to fix, save for common crime or aggression from another nation. So, in a fresh politicians mind...if there is no need for solutions, what need is there for me?

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