Based on the fact that Lincoln has seen three gang-related murders this year, you'd think Lincoln has a serious problem with gang-related crime. Not exactly, says Public Safety Director Tom Casady. Gang-related crime is, in fact, in the midst of a downward trend, driven largely by a sharp dip in vandalism. The murders are problematic, yes, but they don't necessarily correlate with a larger pattern. That's a relief. Sort of.
Casady suggests there's a relatively easy way to address gang-related crime and youth crime in general. Simply keep kids occupied with more productive activities. His emphasis is on early childhood educational opportunities but I would expand that quite a bit to include kids of all ages and activities from sports to music to jobs. There are several good programs out there already, many (most? all?) of which do a very good job. But we could do better, reaching more kids in a wider variety of ways. Regardless, Casady's core point is right on: distracted kids are far less likely to commit crime.