Is it time for a “combat zone?”

I’m throwing this out for discussion, it’s an idea, nothing more.

We’ve been filling prisons with people at a ridiculous rate. When they get out, they are treated like lepers. We spend a good deal of money on police chasing their tails on people who are hell bent on being stupid.

The “war on drugs” was lost before it started.

Witness the recent “gang related” murders in Dayton and the Chief’s response:

McDaniel was gunned down outside the Western Manor apartments May 4 in what detectives said appeared to be a gang-related robbery.

Biehl said the attacks at what are supposed to be peaceful gatherings are a concern, but “it needs to be repeated that the people involved or at these events have been living a high-risk lifestyle and have put themselves in position to become victims of violent crime.”

Biehl has grappled with his feelings of anger and frustration in the wake of the recent shootings, but said those who feel hopeless need to find courage instead of resorting to violence.

via Police chief blames gangs for shooting at funeral.

What we have is a small group of people, who seem to believe that this is the Wild West.

So, maybe we should give it to them.

Take an area, 6, 10 20, square blocks—cordon it off, and make it an arrest-free zone. You can sell drugs, take drugs, prostitute, shoot each other, do whatever you want, you just have to declare taxes and not expect any support from the courts, medical facilities, fire department—anything. Once you enter the “combat zone” you live or die by the sword or your own stupidity. Enter at your own risk, sign a waiver to enter. If we have to put a welcome station outside and offer “guests” the opportunity to watch an educational video about life on the streets in the CZ.

Call it an experiment in social Darwinism, call it crazy, but, we’re not getting any better at prevention as far as I can tell.

To make things even more interesting, if we catch you with an unregistered concealed gun, drugs, prostitution etc. outside the combat zone, you have a choice— face prosecution, or go to the combat zone, go directly to the combat zone, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And you have to stay there, until you’ve gotten rid of your gun, your drugs or done your hooking. Any drugs confiscated in busts outside the CZ—get distributed free in the CZ.

You won’t be able to leave the CZ without passing a checkpoint for sobriety, weapon- and drug-free.

For a while, a bunch of people will die. Then, the smart drug dealers, hookers and other undesirables will realize that crime scares away their customers. It will have to be safer, or the business won’t flourish.

Yes, no one will want this in their back yard, but, if I have to listen to people I know say they live in the middle of a shooting gallery every night in our fair city, let’s at least come up with a better solution.

I’m as frustrated with the local gang-style killings as anyone else—this is a vent—to start a discussion on what to do.

I’m not sure this is it, but, I’d be willing to hear if you have any better ideas.

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15 Responses

  1. Gene May 15, 2009 / 1:14 pm
    Kiss your up coming election goodbye with this post.
  2. Shannon May 15, 2009 / 1:26 pm
     Didn’t Hollywood make a B movie based on this concept ?
    (Kiss your up coming election goodbye with this post.) Get real Gene, you think people do not know David yet? At the least He’s thinking and not just sitting around watching it go to hell.
  3. Gene May 15, 2009 / 1:47 pm
    He IS watching it go to hell, like the rest of us. Ideas, especially stupid ideas, don’t help. Most anyone who reads this that does not know David (which really does not make a difference) would think he is somewhat insane.

    Want an idea? Kill ’em all or send them to Australia – kind of a dumb Esrati-like idea, but an idea none-the-less.

    I am all for ideas – but this is not real and would never happen, so why bother?

    Here is an idea – tell people to stop having kids if they can’t afford them. Stop welfare handouts for having kids and maybe we can save lives without a CZ. Geez, that was easy.

  4. pizzabill May 15, 2009 / 2:03 pm
    I think it’s plainly clear, as David SAID, that this is “a vent- to start a discussion…” and not a serious idea.

    That being said, again, I think an island would be a better place for this.  And if the president’s plane should somehow crash there, we send Kurt Russell wearing an eyepatch, nicknamed “Snake”, to the rescue…

  5. Gene May 15, 2009 / 3:28 pm
    Then you are suggesting criminals can’t swim………..interesting.
  6. John Ise May 15, 2009 / 7:32 pm
    Time to legalize.  From The Economist Magazine

    Indeed, far from reducing crime, prohibition has fostered gangsterism on a scale that the world has never seen before. According to the UN’s perhaps inflated estimate, the illegal drug industry is worth some $320 billion a year. In the West it makes criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens (the current American president could easily have ended up in prison for his youthful experiments with “blow”). It also makes drugs more dangerous: addicts buy heavily adulterated cocaine and heroin; many use dirty needles to inject themselves, spreading HIV; the wretches who succumb to “crack” or “meth” are outside the law, with only their pushers to “treat” them. 

    Full article:

  7. bill May 15, 2009 / 8:18 pm
    I support ” No prostitution zones” as previously suggested by our illustrious Mayor last year. It very much supports the “hippocracy theory” in Dayton.
    Any one familiar with the attorney per ca pita numbers, in Dayton. My theory is that the crime and court business is the only business,  flourishing in Dayton. Our current Mayor is so out of touch with the situation, she volunteering our already overcrowded jails to support the states ,already overcrowded, prison system.
    Is it a crime to be human? Have we lost our minds, and our civil rights? When will we stop looking in the closets of others, and start looking at our own?
    Prostitution has been around since the beginning of human history, and probably will never go away. Drug addiction has a similar history. It is very unlikely that our police forces and justice system will ever change that, as long as they continue to try and force a colorful world, into black and white.
    Similiar to the “world is flat theory”.
    Lets practice acceptance of people different than us….Promote business and education. Promote creativity. Provide opportunity and hope that people will make good decisions.

    That is the best we can hope for isn’t  it?

  8. Jeff May 15, 2009 / 11:59 pm
    I think its ironic that you propose this when apparently the Dayton vice squad has enough free time to go undercover and bust a <i>private,/i> gay club for indecent exposure. 

    An easier bust than the usual things that plague Dayton, like drug abuse and the related violence.

  9. Dani May 16, 2009 / 4:19 am
    According to our mayor Dayton does not have any gangs!!  Maybe she should stop tipping the bottle so much and take a sober look at the reality in this city.  I have long believed that we should stop wasting resources on victimless crimes like prostitution, tax them and have mandatory STD checks.  With our police department working short staffed and unable to fill vacancies due to budget cuts violent crimes are only going to increase.  If our city government would realize cutting safety services like police and fire is not going to recruit residents, it will have the opposite effect.  I don’t care how much business you bring to downtown, if the consumers aren’t here it is worthless. 
  10. nightfly May 17, 2009 / 12:07 am
    Am I the only one that understands that this is really funny sarcasm? Mr. Esrati, I usually read your feed over at DaytonOS. Now I know why they carry your feed. Funny, witty stuff that makes people stop and think. And get riled up. Defensive. Indignant. Downright angry! Keep up the good work ;-)
  11. David Esrati May 17, 2009 / 9:08 am

    Where is the intellectual brain power in this city? We have a problem, we need solutions. I put out an extreme solution to act as a starting point for discussion- and ask for ideas, and I don’t get much in response.
    I understand we are at the top of the bible belt, but, legalizing prostitution like Nevada, might be a good starting point. It would take the strain off vice, help stop spread of diseases, and generate tax revenue as well as making us a “tourist” destination.
    The drug war isn’t so easy. Decriminalization of minor amounts of pot wouldn’t even put a dent in the problem. Heroin is coming back strong. The profitability is too high- yes, it’s high risk work, but, the only other way to make that kind of money is to be a CEO :-)
    The gangs are the natural evolution of the business model, just as the rise of the corporation to sociopathic status (see the movie “The Corporation”). Unless we find an alternative distribution system, our gang problem won’t go away.
    So, again- I’m asking for ideas: if you were in office, what would your solution be?

  12. Ryan May 20, 2009 / 3:52 pm
    Logical Application:  Dayton used to have a population at least twice its current size.  Much like Detroit, we have expansive tracts of land with vacant or abandoned houses and land (manufacturing facilities/warehouses/homes ect.).  The remaining residents in these tracts could be coaxed out and provided with equivalent housing in more populated areas.  Then the city’s could and should warden off these neighborhoods into no-man’s land.  These areas would be “enter at your own risk”.  No civil services of any form would be performed within this region.  This would save the city money, and in turn increase the populations of the more established areas to enable civil services to be provided more efficiently. 
    The government in turn would continue to advertise and recruit business to the Dayton area.  Wait until population demands that these “quarantined” land/areas is needed, and then re-build.  Blank slate.  This would enable a smart properly planned approach to reconstruction and revitalization utilizing mixed use neighborhoods.     
    Is this legal?  Is this feasible? 
  13. David Esrati May 20, 2009 / 5:06 pm

    Ryan- It’s logical, it’s doable, although it would be frowned on and written off.
    How the city “landbanking” is legal is beyond me- our tax dollars going to prop up and hold property- is a misuse of our taxes. It dilutes the effectiveness of our tax dollars- for little return.
    We’ve got to figure away to provide the highest quality of life and services or we will be forever screwed.
    Youngstown is slowly cutting services to areas and turning them back to the wilderness- we need to do the same. Combat zone is an extreme example- but, it may free up resources to solve other problems.

  14. Gene May 20, 2009 / 5:15 pm
    A government misusing tax dollars, no way. I have never heard of such a thing. This really makes me mad, mad as hell. Just think, if Federal, State and Local governments misused our tax dollars more than just this one time, I think I would lose my mind and start a revolution. Thankfully this is a one-time misuse of tax dollars. We would not want this to happen again, so please everyone keep a careful eye on our governments – they may do this again.

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