“Safety is, at its core, a feeling. Statistically, we know that most of us won’t ever be direct victims of a crime such as gun violence. But we are all victims when we do not feel safe in our own community.” —Van Pech
Van Pech, a candidate for Lowell City Council, sent a copy of the following Op-Ed he wrote (which was published in yesterday’s Lowell Sun) in which he proposed an innovative response to the problem of violence in the community – a local human rights panel. Here’s the full essay from Van:
In recent weeks, the subject of public safety has come to the forefront of the Lowell City Council election. Our city has seen far too many tragedies in a short period of time. Some people have advocated for increased police presence, whether through new hiring or reinstating cuts to the overtime budget. Others have focused on education around root causes such as drug abuse. I myself have spoken to further collaboration and coordination with existing resources such as increased utilization of our auxiliary forces, University and National Park Police, and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. I will advocate for all these policies if elected. However, there is more the city council can do to improve public safety in our community.
Safety is, at its core, a feeling. Statistically, we know that most of us won’t ever be direct victims of a crime such as gun violence. But we are all victims when we do not feel safe in our own community. Having grown up in an refugee and immigrant family here in Lowell, and working in the human services field as an adult, I bring a distinct perspective among candidates on this important issue of public safety.
Our law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety, but they need buy-in and support from the entire community. I propose that Lowell establish a Human Rights Commission dedicated to making sure that every person in the community feels comfortable participating in the discussion about public safety. We must continue to build trust among the neighborhoods with high crime and those enforcing public safety is essential. A commission of this nature can prioritize this issue. The cities of Lynn and Cambridge have created similar commissions in recent years. In Lynn the commission describes its work as: “The Commission aims to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to provide education about human rights issues in the City of Lynn. The Commission works with diverse individuals and community groups to promote tolerance, mutual respect and human rights.”
If elected, I would establish Lowell’s Human Rights Commission to serve as an advocacy group and become a partner with law enforcement in the area of public safety. This, along with other policies such as community policing, will promote dialogue and help foster an environment where we feel safe in all the neighborhoods and among all the people of the city.