Saturday, December 04, 2004

Crime Story

Nick Spencer has chronicled yet another crime his bar has suffered. Nicks states that they got relatively lucky with this, but that is as he says "…as lucky as you can with a window busted out at 7 in the morning." Nick puts the issue in clear as day language:
For those keeping track, we've been open two months now. We've now been broken into, one of our employees' had their car stolen, another two cars broken have been broken into, not to mention all the drug dealing and prostitution across the street, and its negative impact on business.

Crime is just out of control down here right now. Period.
Now, what I hope people say is, "See man, Downtown is not safe." Downtown is safe. This is OTR. OTR has huge problems. Not the level of problems those who fear Downtown thinks it has, but enough to disrupt life of those who live, work, and do business there. What OTR lacks is a solution. The problem I believe rests with police-community relations. The cops have given up leaning hard on criminals. They fear being blamed for what ever happens. I can understand that. What they have to understand is that they can't go on thinking that they are superheroes who should be kowtowed to every time their contract comes up. They should allow bad cops to be fired by reduced the binding arbitration that keeps bad cops on the force. The leadership of the police has to eliminate their attitude of classism, bigotry, and on a small level racism by a few.

On the community's side we must root out the criminals. We can't let them run the streets. This is where the boycotters have let down their own constituents. They have created the same us vs. them attitude that the leadership of police have created. Ego, pride, bigotry, and racism are what is allowing drug dealers to go unpunished.

What I think I would advocate would be for a private group/company/person to mount video cameras outside their places of business and tape the crimes going on. If drug dealers camp out on a corner, then tape them doing their business and pass a copy along to the cops. If you also get some license plate numbers of drug customers I would pass those along to the media.

If the government were to do this without cause, I would oppose it. If a business owner were to do it from their property, I would have no problem at all. What keeps this from happening more is cost, in both dollars and time. That is where the city might be able to offer loans of some type to help. I don't think they could pay for them outright. That might raise issues of the property owners being agents of the police, opening up possible legal defense issues.

The citizens need to fight crime, not be bystanders.

Another idea could be a take back the streets initiative. A neighborhood watch type program. It could start with a gathering in the effected areas. If 500 people are standing around where the crime is happening, one would think less crime would happen. This would be met with fear though. It comes close to vigilantism, something which I absolutely oppose. The problem with any action like this is that most people don’t given a damn. Now, they care about it and will give support for helping with it, but actually doing something, that is a different story. I can speak from personal experienced. I would be right there with those doing nothing, sitting on my fat ass watching TV. We all must do more, but I think we will not get out and get involved. A head in the sand is so much easier than sticking out a neck.

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