We the People: Scrutiny and unity – only things that can stop crimes by terrorists

“You educate … by what you say … by what you do and still more by what you are, most of all by the things you love.”

We learn from the past as we prepare for the future and we know murderers must be punished and liars cannot be trusted. In Kenya, a handful of murderers brutally killed 147 Christian students at Garissa University located near the border with Somalia.

A spokesman for Al‑Shabab, an al‑Qaeda group, said that the killings were revenge for Kenyan participation in the African Union peacekeeping in Somalia. Survivors reported that the gunmen taunted students, questioned them about the Koran to identify Muslims and forced some to call their parents to demand they call for removal of Kenyan troops in Somalia before killing them.

Some students smeared the blood of dead schoolmates on their bodies to make it appear they had been shot. The handful of murderers killed themselves when confronted by security forces. Kenya’s interior minister said that his government would not be intimidated.

A weeping man told reporters, “I am so worried, I had a son … inside the college and since yesterday I have heard nothing.” This group also carried out the shopping mall massacre in Kenya’s capitol, Nairobi, in September 2013. We now know they can kill shoppers and students for political gain and that they love cold-blooded murder.

Meanwhile, two women were arrested and charged with a plot to make bombs to use against civilian and police targets in New York City. The wannabe jihadists were exposed by a joint FBI/NYPD investigation. U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, declared, “We are committed to doing everything in our power to detect, disrupt and deter … violent extremists.” As a nation, we need to put our economic and political priorities in order that we may do the same.

These hate groups have declared themselves to the world by their words, actions and desires to be merciless assassins dedicated to committing crimes against the helpless in the name of God. It is time for the world to stand up and stand together against them wherever they hide.

In New York City, marijuana arrests have plummeted since the NYPD changed its policy on pot last year. A recent report on other crimes reflected a 10 percent drop this year, although murders and shootings have increased. There were 75 murders, up from 67 for the same time period last year, and 237 people have been shot compared with 212 last year.

Even if serious felonies have dropped overall what is being done about violent crime? In Queens, a 70-year-old woman was shot to death in her home by a street gang hitman. The NYPD has arrested fewer people this year: 81,000 arrests so far this year compared to 98,000 last year.

Undoubtedly, some of the drop in arrests comes from the policy change concerning modest marijuana possession announced by Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton.

The Penal Law makes possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana in “public view” a misdemeanor. The NYPD was directed to treat that as a non‑criminal violation which gets a summons rather than an arrest. This has cheered pot smokers and it certainly can be a smart decision when expending police resources. It was rumored there would be funding for more officers in the city budget but City Hall has withheld funding.

How low do we want arrest to go? “Since the inception of our policy in 2014, marijuana enforcement activity is trending down in all categories,” said NYPD Deputy Chief Royster. In the past, arrests for possession of 25 grams of pot surged from 5,700 in 1995 to 50,700 in 2011, before gradually declining to approximately 26,400 in 2014, according to the Drug Policy Alliance of New York.

One positive thing about stricter enforcement is that a police officer stopping a person smoking pot can inquire and discover if the person is up to something else or if the person is wanted for other crimes.

Less enforcement has a ripple effect that can encourage lawlessness. I recently intervened on the subway between an aggressive panhandler and a woman who tried to ignore him. I witnessed, for the first time in 25 years, a three card monte game on Flatbush Avenue. If we are going to create a brave new world, we should make it a safe one.

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