The Importance of Interdependence

Ron Nichols

I was having a discussion with friends and we talked about being “independently wealthy.” I couldn’t help but laugh. When looking at how “independently” is defined, Merriam-Webster recognizes it as an adverb that means,

“In a way that is free from outside control or influence; without outside help; unaided; in a way that is not connected with another; individually.”

“Independently wealthy” is a fallacy because at some point that individual must rely on someone else, whether it be the employees of the company in which stock is doing well, the individuals who are doing the trading of the commodities, or a host of others. Truly, one’s wealth is not independent: at some level, there is a dependence on others to make that wealth grow.

Independence and inter-dependence are not mutually-exclusive concepts

In my opinion, the reason for this passionate desire for independence is that it is viewed as an “either/or” proposition: one is either dependent or independent. And dependence has many negative connotations. But, what about interdependence? Interdependence recognizes the value of the individual, whether it is a person or agency, while at the same time recognizing that there is value in an integrated, collaborative approach in which the net effect is much greater than the simple sum of its parts.

As a society, we continue to discuss the issue of gun crime as a “society-wide” problem. But we deal with it as a problem that is isolated within select communities. As a result, the common approach has been for local agencies to look at how to deal with firearm crime in their own jurisdictions–independently– with the hope of making their streets safer. The thing is, none of these jurisdictions is truly independent geographically or economically. They are at many levels, interdependent with neighboring communities. Therefore, it makes zero sense to approach gun crime independently, especially since those who commit gun crimes are not restricted by these invisible, administrative borders between communities. Shooters and their crime guns travel.

Independence can lead to information silos

For example, in one state there are four different cities, each located in a different county. Each of these cities has a relatively high rate of firearm-related crime compared to other cities in the state. There is a total of 30 miles separating these four cities along a single freeway, a distance that can be traveled in 35 to 40 minutes. Over this 30-mile stretch, there are at least fourteen different law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction over things that may occur on or near this freeway. So if a shooting occurs in a city at one end of that freeway, within 35 to 40 minute travel time, there are thirteen other agencies that may apprehend the suspect and recover that crime gun. Do they exchange information? Who knows…

We talk about technology being able to bridge those gaps but with technology comes the potential for information silos where information flows freely within, but is unavailable to those communities outside the silo that may have the case-breaking piece of evidence. Based on the needs and budgets of these “independently” funded law enforcement agencies, some law enforcement information management systems are unable to freely communicate with other information management systems.

This is the danger of the independent approach to problem solving: within minutes a crime gun can venture into the next jurisdiction just a few miles away, or move to another city on the other side of the country. What’s needed is a regional, collaborative approach. One in which individual technological silos are dismantled, and a single unified and cohesive approach to crime gun violence is built with NIBIN serving as the cornerstone of that strategy.

Inter-dependence can give us freedom from gun crime

As I wrote this blog, one of my favorite movies, Independence Day, was playing in the background. For those who haven’t seen this movie, it’s about an alien invasion of earth that comes to a culmination on July 4th. I will watch this entire movie for the one speech that Bill Pullman gives to the pilots about to fly a combat mission to take out the alien craft. As president of the United States, he declares:

“We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it is fate that today is the 4th of July…we’re fighting for our right to live…and should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday but as the day the world declared in one voice, we will not go quietly into the night, we will not vanish without a fight…today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

Even as I typed those words, I got chills. We recognize the importance of independence, but we must decide: independence from what? If we are seeking freedom from the tyranny of crime gun violence, then we must humbly set aside our independence and move toward interdependence, moving forward with one voice, taking our streets back from the plague of crime gun violence.

This concept of a collaborative regional approach is the core theme of my book Building a Preventive Crime Gun Strategy: A Playbook for Success available at no cost through Ultra Forensic Technology. It outlines a strategic approach that law enforcement agencies can adapt to the needs of the communities in their regions. If you want to be proactive in the fight against gun violence and want to make significant strides in reducing crime gun violence in your community, I encourage you to read this book. Request your complimentary copy here.

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