Letter: Vigilance is important. So is prudence.
The May 8 Washington Merry-Go-Round column has less circular propulsion than that dizzy feeling from a narrative traveling in circles. Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift continue to keep Washington, D.C., as a source of poorly thought-out policy positions.
The “best”—their word—anti-terrorist, anti-crime tool is the cell phone? Rather than sounding an alarm with a 911 call, is not the better policy the fielding of preventive mechanisms? A neighborhood watch program is more effective and thorough than a chance 911 report about someone appearing in a “suspicious manner.”
More emergency calls require more staff and responders. Outside of Washington, D.C., budgets are austere. Emergency calls are surely needed to augment preventive programs but do not transfer away risks to the public sector as a matter of routine.
The Cohn-Clift 911 policy position reminds me of a quote by the famous philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset: “The modern barbarian … looks at the highly complex modern society and takes it to be a natural object. People think that fruit appears in the grocery store the same way it grows on trees. They don’t perceive the highly complex social network that makes it possible. Nor do they appreciate that network’s fragility.”
Vigilance is important. So is prudence.