These are not salad days for St. Louis as our region struggles with a spike in murders and other violent crime.
Civic leaders are under constant scrutiny and pressure from citizens, public interest groups and – of course – the media for their perceived inability to create solutions to the increasingly desperate situation.
And, as one would expect, this topic is frequently addressed and debated on the crown jewel of our community’s Thursday night public affairs television schedule – Donnybrook, and its companion audience participation program – Donnybrook: Your Turn.
Last week, one of the show’s audience members phoned in to propose a drastic solution for drastic times – have the military send drones into high-crime areas to patrol and, if necessary, to intercede if it appears a violent crime is imminent. I paraphrase here, but this is the gist of what I believe the caller was advocating.
Military drones, the caller pointed out, have proven fairly effective at targeting “persons of interest” in our overseas battle against terror, and it made sense to him that the same approach should be used locally.
Your Turn co-host Ray Hartmann politely dismissed the proposal as being fraught with Constitutional, not to mention public relations, problems. This is simply something that cannot be done in the United States of America.
That being said, I am not 100 percent opposed to employing drones in the effort to reduce violent crime on the streets of St. Louis. I think I have a solution that would be both Constitutional and constructive and which might even help mend the fraying social fabric of our community.
I propose the use of drones – military or otherwise – to deliver ice cream to areas plagued by high crime rates.
By now, I’m sure most of you are aware that online retail behemoth Amazon is planning to use drones to deliver packages, so the technology is already here. Sure, there will have to be a way to equip the drones’ payload bays with micro-freezers, but it seems reasonable to believe that a nation that can send a spaceship out to take close-ups of ex-planet Pluto can likely find a way to keep the rocky road sufficiently frigid for a quick trip to the mean streets.
From where will the ice cream come, you may ask (being careful not to end a sentence with a preposition.) The short answer is the United States government, but it will require a bit of retooling. For those of you who remember the 1980s, you will recall the large-scale giveaways of surplus cheese. What is cheese made of (I ask, recklessly ending a sentence with a preposition.) The answer, of course, is milk. All the government needs to do is to redirect all of its milk from the production of surplus cheese to the production of surplus ice cream. Problem solved!
My hope is that the surplus ice cream could be produced right here in St. Louis. This would help put more people to work, and it’s been said that more jobs will help reduce crime. The benefits of this new program are really stacking up now.
There will also be a need for people to load the drones and pilot the drones. And we will want to ensure that the types and flavors of frosty treats are appealing to the targets of these drones. One block may be partial to cookies and cream while another block may lean more toward pistachio. We’ll need to employ some statisticians and supply chain analysts – very good jobs.
I have to believe that more people prefer to enjoy ice cream than commit murder, so I fail to see how this program wouldn’t pay a handsome dividend in the way of lives saved and crime lowered. And if your hands are occupied with a dish of ice cream and a spoon (this program will intentionally exclude cones and stick-based confections) then you have no capacity to wield a gun, knife, machete, crossbow, etc.
It is not, I readily concede, a foolproof plan. Some people suffer from lactose intolerance and would not be able to partake. Others might prefer sorbet. I personally don’t understand this latter group, but it is not my place to judge. Furthermore, I don’t believe we should allow these issues to get in the way of moving forward on this project.
Our community is in a crisis and we have to start somewhere. Step one is the proverbial beating of swords into plowshares . . . er . . . scoops.