Opinion: National Crime Prevention Month

In 1984, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) designated October as National Crime Prevention Month. Every year since then, organizations at the local, state and national levels have reached out to educate the public, showcase their accomplishments, and explore new partnerships that will better the communities.

NCPC dubs this month every year to, “rededicating ourselves to the principles of crime prevention and take stock of what we have done well and what we can do better.”

Each week of October, a new relevant topic of crime prevention is discussed.

Week 1: Identity Theft: Shine a Spotlight on Fraud

Week 2: Safe Firearms Storage

Week 3: Living Safer, Being Smarter

Week 4: Gang Prevention

My questions for the NCPC and the general public would be, “Can educating the public of different methods of crime prevention cause there to be a lower rate of crime?” 

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average number of monthly offenses decreases from October to November by 75.3 total offenses.

Does this confirm that crime prevention awareness lowers the crime rate or is it more related with seasonal differences? You may have heard the term for a fallacy, “cum hoc ergo propter hoc,” during a logic or philosophy class. This fallacy occurs when two events happen together that appear to be connected, but no direct relationship is ever present. A more widely known opposition to the fallacy is, “Correlation does not imply causation.” 

I believe this to be relevant when analyzing the effects of Crime Prevention Month. Criminal activity is difficult to analyze and impossible to predict. It is hard to examine the possible causes and effects of crime without committing the fallacy mentioned above. 

In the US, the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) were designed to gather and report on the national crime rates. UCR and NCVS crime statistics are utilized to help the population in a number of ways. They both provide law enforcement with data for use in, “budget formulation, planning, resource allocation, assessment of police operations and helping address the crime problem at various levels.” Per their collection of criminal activity data, we are able to see a significant decrease in the number of violent crimes, property crimes, murder, robbery, aggravated assault, and theft (GTA) have all decreased since the mid 1980’s when October was designated as National Crime Prevention Month.

It certainly appears that crime prevention awareness leads to action. The general public now knows what to look for in regards to preventable actions that contribute to crime. In addition, criminals are deterred by police presence and the possibility of getting caught. The DHS motto “If you see something, say something” has been a successful tool involving the public as additional “eyes and ears” for law enforcement. Methods of public awareness and involvement are the best way to prevent crime.

Crime is a part of any society with so many people. I do believe, however, that crime prevention starts with the individual and should always be discussed as it plays such a large role in our current society.