Friday, November 13, 2009

Don't Cry Wolf-Part 1-Limits

Maybe this post will be useful to future gentrifiers. I don't know.
I said in a previous post that calling the police was my remedy of second-to-last resort. The last resort is, to me, agreeing to be a victim. But there were a lot of things I tried first, or victim situations we accepted. To operate under suburban expectations would have been impossible. To call for help that often would be like crying wolf.  Like one false alarm after another. My reasoning for this came from more than one set of observations.

We were not the high crime neighborhood. Homicides occurred mainly in the projects, about ten blocks down and a half-world away, plus, ten blocks north and a half-world away (not to mention other high-crime sites even further away).
The police had little. The cars didn’t have their headlights, their hub caps, their motors tuned up. I didn’t see the interiors, so who knows what else was wrong—communication equipment, steering, whatever. It implied they were short elsewhere too, like personnel, for example.

Maybe the city administration thought a hubcap or ding is small beans if the car still runs. I don’t. This doesn't mean I know about police work. I know about management.
a. Respect. It looks like city gov doesn’t respect its police, so why should anyone else?
b. Trust. It looks like the police can’t take care of themselves, let alone you.
c. Morale. Institutional slop eventually becomes personal slop. Example: A police officer is supposed to spiff up, but his unit’s not spiffed up, so the effect is lost. Or, after a day of one annoyance after another, some that feel like betrayals, that last hour is just spent on anger management.  You don't have to think policeman to find an example of this. Just check out your own experiences.

Anyway, the final piece of this part of the equation was on the ground. The problems seemed huge. The beat police weren't there--even after a newsworthy double-arson/drug war incident down the street. I knew I'd stepped into a new world, and I was going to have to revise my expectations of the institution and of myself.

So far, so good . . .

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Of course, the Broken Window Theory, a staple in community policing theory, would support your idea that how the police cars look is an important barometer for the conditions you mentioned.

Sad to see, and sad that it is occuring in so many cities.