Owning the crime problem

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  1. Polimom, A lot of excellent points here, I think. And I love your note about *how* to do community empowerment. I do wonder about the location. Where was it? Here in nola? And if not, does NOLA possess the community pride that IS required for a neighborhood to come together? I lived in West Palm Beach for awhile, and I am from Texas. And I can tell you that in many communities in both of those places, there is a great deal of pride in your lawn, your house, your block, your community. And there is no tolerance for anything less. These standards cross racial and class lines. It is simply the way in many places. Now, I realize this is a blanket statement, but I do question the ability of people to do that here. Has it been done before? Moreover, are things too laid back here? Is there such an emphasis on having a good time (culturally speaking), that the discipline and strength of a community are simply non-existent? I realize this is a bit off topic, but it occurred to me that in order -well, to have order – a neighborhood must care about its own space, its own people. And I question if New Orleans really wants that. So, does it? I hope people start a discussion up at some point here because I really am trying to learn (as a recent transplant).

  2. E. – We were in Houston when we did that little exercise, but the motivator really wasn’t pride. It was anger, galvanized by fear.
    I think what you may possibly be referring to, in terms of pride in environment, is the broken window theory. As it happens, I also see “fixing broken windows” as a factor in deterring crime.
    However, I would describe New Orleans as having a very strong sense of community, generally. There is a sense, though, of timelessness there, which may contribute to the mildly languid approach to upkeep.

  3. I believe that the best defense against crime is getting to know your neighbors. You don’t have to be friends, but you should know what the people on your street look like in order to know who doesn’t belong. Everyone should have the telephone numbers of each neighbor to the left and right of them in case of an emergency, fire during the night, robbery, car accident, etc. If you live across the street and you would like to know who is knocking on your door that you can not see through the peep hole, call your neighbor across the street and see if they can see through their peephole who is knocking on your door.
    Also, I believe that any crime committed by a child under 14 years of age should have their parents going to court to explain why they cannot control their child. The story about they can’t get off because of work doesn’t fly because they can get off if the child is killed while performing a crime.

  4. Pearl – you’re right, of course. I and my neighbors were not strangers to one another. It’s one of the advantages I suspect New Orleans has just at the moment, though; connection to neighbors.
    Juvenile crime and parental responsibility is another topic altogether, and certainly a troubling one. It isn’t the under-14s, though, that I was thinking of in this particular post.

  5. Last night I went to Winn-Dixie on Holiday Drive in Algiers. About five young men were hanging around in the parking lot drinking 16 oz cans of beer and listening to their rap music – loud. Pre-Katrina, Winn-Dixie always had a New Orleans police officer posted visibly in the store. This time they were nowhere in sight. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that there are a lot of people in Algiers that weren’t here before that have crude manners and I reason that they must be displaced and I should have empathy for their situation, but this is not the type of people that we want in this neighborhood. Where are the police when you want them? It’s only a matter of time before this neighborhood will fall if this type of behaviour is allowed to get a foothold here. I’ve already warned my children to be aware of their surroundings at all times. This is an unexpected part of the misery this city will be facing.

  6. Algiers Point has changed since the storm as well. We’re seeing more drug dealing (a guy overdosed on the street this week), and the demographic on my little block has changed. I understand that crime is and will continue to be a problem and of course, must be addressed. I have a friend who lived in an area in NYC that was rife with drug dealers for years. When Juliani came in as Mayor, he did the big crackdown (no pun intended) and got all the dealers off the street. This friend said that from that moment on, thefts and burglaries actually went UP, along with assaults on the regular neighborhood denizens. Sounds nuts right? But the explanation it turned out was that these drug dealers actually WERE the neighborhood watch in a way. That way being that they sure as shooting didn’t want the cops showing up, so they discouraged in no uncertain terms, the petty burglars, etc. The woman says she now has to make a decision to move out and actually wishes the dealers were back. Horrendous story. A very difficult one to wrap one’s head around, but a certain logic to it.
    Now I am absolutely not advocating letting blatant gang banging drug dealers run the blocks. Please don’t get me wrong. What I am concerned about is that at this point everything I’m hearing seems so reactive as opposed to doing something before these kids wind up as drug dealers and gang bangers.
    Something else I just gotta ask:
    In the post about a neighborhood activism watch, you said, “The problem went away. Totally gone. Poof.”
    Okay, and exactly WHERE did it go? Seems to me that when we start this dialogue, what never gets said is where are these people going to go? Good, we get them out of OUR neighborhood and send them where? Do they just migrate to the next block, the next state? Do we build even more prisons and continue to spend more than the GNP of most countries incarcerating them?
    I’ve just never seen “getting them out of my neighborhood or my city” as a reasonable view. A laser beam isn’t coming to zap all the “undesirables” off the face of the planet, so they will have to go SOMEWHERE.
    Where is that?

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