The Statesman announced several initiatives that the police and DA's office are taking to reduce crime, fight drug addiction, and basically make our streets safer. The story broke in mid-January and is here.
Since then, several new initiatives have been put forward, some a little revolutionary. One flows from the positive influence of the Free Hugs Campaign and is due to begin later this month. I think it's kind of cool.
It's called Hug-A-Cop (HAC) and will consist of pairs of officers patrolling downtown Austin, targeting high-crime areas and just offering to hug passers-by. The idea, I'm told, is that when people see police officers hugging strangers, the general feeling of goodwill will spread. They will be in pairs because one will be dressed in combat fatigues, heavily-armed, in case the person receiving the hug reacts badly. He will also wear what's being called a HAC-Cam, to record all incidents.
Another initiative is very Austin-centric. In fact, yesterday the Statesman wrote about the proposed Night of the Bat. This initiative involves the purchase and distribution of 15 Batman costumes, which will be worn on SWAT missions by the team leader. The idea is that the image of Batman ready to take action will persuade a lot of people to give up without a struggle. Seems like a stretch to me, but we'll see.
The next program, based here in the courthouse will begin after the summer heat dissipates, and you'll see why. It's called "Lifting Spirits." What they are thinking of doing is randomly halting the elevators in the courthouse for up to twenty minutes between floors. It's based on a study from Maine University that suggested people got to know one another and formed positive experiences from being put in peril together, especially in close confines. There are some liability issues to work out but I'm in favor of increasing the amount of friendliness in the building. Just not in July and August please!
One thing in it's early stages, and I mean days: after my post about the wig that I have, one of the higher-ups came by my office to talk about all DA's maybe wearing a formal attire in court, maybe wigs but that would also require robes. The cost of such an outfit would come out of the public purse, a few thousand per lawyer, so it'd be about $100,000 plus laundry expenses. Naturally, I'm in favor but I've no idea if it'll go anywhere. The other possibility is a "trial kilt" from these people, something with the DA logo on.