In today's SFChron, columnist C.W.Nevius, who is usually writing about the need to get tough with the homeless and petty criminals, shares some worthy observations about how to handle the coyotes that are moving into some SF neighborhoods. Seeking to prevent human (and dog) encounters with the small wild predators, park officials have put up warning signs (torn down by some misguided persons) and closed off certain trails to humans and dogs. In response to several instances of aggressive coyotes crossing into nearby yards, hunters have been hired to kill the offending creatures.
Nevius points out that discouraging more human and dog activity in the areas now being ceded to the coyotes is a self defeating strategy:
In an attempt to cut down on coyote contact with humans and pets, the Presidio has closed many trails and some roads to dogs. Local residents, who may have moved to the neighborhood because they liked the idea of walking their house pets in the park, can only look glumly at the roped-off areas where they can no longer go.
"The coyotes won," one resident said. "We let them in, and now they've won."
The same logic does apply to crime. The more you can encourage law abiding people to assertively occupy the public streets, the less crime (and more importantly, fear of crime) there is. Strategies to encourage the public may mean more police, but that is an expensive solution. Subsidizing development, creating attractive parks and boulevards are all things we can do to fight crime that do not end up wasting resources in prisons and which we can all enjoy.