ARG-132

The following appeared in a recommendation from the President of the Amburg Chamber of Commerce.

"Last October, the city of Belleville installed high-intensity lighting in its central business district, and vandalism there declined almost immediately. The city of Amburg, on the other hand, recently instituted police patrols on bicycles in its business district. However, the rate of vandalism here remains constant. Since high-intensity lighting is clearly the most effective way to combat crime, we recommend using the money that is currently being spent on bicycle patrols to install such lighting throughout Amburg. If we install this high-intensity lighting, we will significantly reduce crime rates in Amburg."


Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.


The president of Amburg's Chamber of Commerce recommends installing high intensity lighting in its central business district to curb crimes. To support his or her argument, the author points out that when Belleville took similar action, vandalism declined almost immediately. Furthermore, although Amburg recently instituted police patrols in its business districts, the case of vandalism has not declined. The president thus recommends using the money that is currently being spent on bicycle patrols to install such lighting throughout Amburg and the crime rate will significantly reduce. Although there appear to be some merits in the president’s recommendation, it does not receive adequate support his lines of reasoning because of some potentially problematic assumptions that remain unsubstantiated. Before we can give an accurate evaluation of the proposal, a number of questions must be addressed.


To start with, we need to consider whether the decrease of vandalism rate in Belleville was caused by the installation of high-intensity lighting. This is because two events happening in sequence may not necessarily imply a causal relationship. There are other possible factors that might cause the vandalism to decline. According to the author, the decrease of vandalism is attributed to the installation of high-intensity lighting. If it turns out there are other policies such as installing monitors around business districts, such policies may have led to the decrease of vandalism. In this case, high-intensity lighting might not be effective and the author’s conclusion will be weakened. On the contrary, if no other policies were implemented during the same period the author’s argument will be strengthened.


Additionally, granted that the decrease of vandalism rate in Belleville is due to the installation of high-intensity lighting, it remains another question that whether such policies would benefit Amburg as much as it benefits Belleville. When the author compares both cities, he does not consider the differences between them, which might lead to different results for the same policy. For example, it is possible that Belleville lacked lighting before implementing the policy and that installing more lighting subsequently decreased the number of vandalism cases. If the city of Amburg, comparing with Belleville, has excellent lighting system already, installing more lighting might not be very effective and the author’s conclusion will be weakened. By contrast, similar flawed lighting system for both cities will bolster the author’s lines of reasoning and make the conclusion more convincing.


Finally, even if we acknowledge that such policies will benefit Amburg as much as it benefits Belleville, whether the crime rate in Amburg will significantly be reduced is questionable. This is because of an unsubstantiated assumption that vandalism is the only type of crime in the city of Amburg, which is not fully validated. If this is indeed the case, the author’s prediction on the reduction of crime rate will be more credible. However, it is also possible that other kinds of crime such as robbery and stealing are plaguing Amburg. In this scenario, even thought the rate of vandalism decreases, other sort of crime might not be affected, and the author’s prediction will then sounds less logically acceptable.


To sum up, while it may be logical to use the money that is currently being spent on bicycle patrols to install such lighting throughout Amburg, there are still some open question that remains to be answered. In order to determine whether such implementation of policy will work equally well in Amburg, we need to consider several questions regarding the factors that actually helped Belleville combat crime, the differences between cities, and the types of crimes in Amburg.

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