02 October 2008

The Decline And Fall - Part IV...
In the first three parts of my "epic" regarding neighborhoods, we spoke about the PEOPLE, the ENVIRONMENT and the CITY. Today, we'll focus on yet another facet of our diamond in the rough.
We're talking CRIME here.
Now crime is not new to the human race. It's been around since the model came out, and will (unfortunately) be with us in some manner until the human race packs it in. For the religious scholars out there, Cain slew Abel (his own brother) out of envy.
And thus we had...the FIRST murder.
Today, crime is not relegated solely to the physical realm. With the advent of new technologies, cyber-crime is a growing problem, and one not easily addressed, due in part to the constant changing OF those technologies. Whether it's identity theft, corporate hacking, electronic embezzlement, or Internet child pornography, the magnitude of these crimes seems to grow exponentially every year.
But that doesn't really have that much of a direct impact on a typical neighborhood, and certainly not one in decline.
Those neighborhoods have other (more physical) crimes to worry about, such as murder, rape, burglaries, robberies, assaults, car thefts, and the like. And to every crime...there IS a victim.
As one example, take the recent spate of thefts from vehicles in the Southwest part of Fort Wayne.
In neighborhoods that almost any decent person would LOVE to live in, with their nicely manicured properties and the friendliness of the people living there, crime has arrived. And we're not just talking about the teen pranks. This is big time.
The residents there have received their "wake up" call...and they'd best listen, and not roll over and hit the "snooze" button.
One gentleman had 3 hunting rifles taken from his truck, and he stated that "It's as if someone KNEW they were in there".
Right you are, my good man.
Someone DID know...because you WERE being watched.
Sounds a bit paranoid, but think about it.
Criminals do not have any "clairvoyant" abilities, nor do they rely on crystal balls (but they do have brass balls) or tarot cards to determine where they will strike.
They used the tried and true method...they WATCH...anything and everything...anyone and everyone. They look for patterns of behavior, comings and goings, and in some ways, are more proactive than the police when it comes to the commission of these crimes. They do their homework, as it were.
How many vehicles have the residents noticed in the area that don't "belong" there? Anyone sitting down the street in some car scoping the area out? Is there one house in the area exhibiting dubious behavior by it's residents and "friends"?
This is akin to the drug problem they used to have up in Whispering Meadows a few years back.
I say USED TO HAVE, because the people got together, started keeping notes, and reported suspicious activities whenever they noticed them. And it has worked. Then again, it takes a community to do that.
Sometimes, it takes ONE person who gives a damn enough to fire everyone else up.
I would wager that the SW people that have been victimized will do likewise, in order to protect themselves, their families and the possessions they have busted their asses to get. But it starts with giving yourselves out there a good, swift kick in your complacency, and start treating crime as something that will come to ANY area, rich or poor, good or bad.
Sadly, in areas like MINE (or Phil's), it's a whole other story.
People in general just DO NOT CARE, and rarely, if ever get "involved", and you can tell simply by the manner in which they conduct their lives (such as they are). Many times they cause crime by simply turning the other way.
Now there are those that always shout about POVERTY being at the root of this evil, and I'd have to disagree to a large part.
Being "poor" doesn't necessarily CAUSE crime. Look at the guys at ENRON...sure weren't all THAT poor, were they? Same goes for other players in large companies that swindled their way through life. Not a church mouse in the bunch.
So being poor is not a prerequisite for criminal activity.
Being STUPID, however, is.
It can be the "thrill of the hunt", an initiation into a gang, or an opportunity that merely presents itself that will allow any of us to engage in something wrong. Fortunately, technologies to prevent such activities have substantially decreased crimes like this.
But ANY person can become a criminal...all they need is the right set of parameters. Then there's that thing we call a conscience. Tends to get in the way most times, to the betterment of our society. We CHOOSE to not be a criminal today by killing someone.
It's the old "accountability - personal responsibility - consequences" animal rearing it's head. And we listen to it...it keeps most of us out of trouble on a daily basis. And yes, it IS easier to refrain from criminal activity than it is to pursue it.
Sadly, we cannot predict when a violent crime such as murder or rape will occur. Many times, those are crimes of opportunity. The impulsiveness of the perp will determine when that crime will happen, with the usual results.
But in neighborhoods such as are found on the SE side, crimes like murder will come from some form of escalation, whether verbal or physical. There is no "opportunity", per se., but there IS the air of impulsiveness attached to these crimes. As is often the case, it's of a retaliatory nature, and this is where innocent people become victims in the process. Blame that on poor marksmanship, perhaps, but with the availability of illegal firearms (like those stolen from the SW part of town), we can see that one crime will often beget others. That stolen gun may be used in a robbery, a homicide, a carjacking...whatever. It's a self-sustaining creature, in that respect.
We always hear that CRIME FOLLOWS POVERTY. I'd like to believe otherwise. When I see the "Hoovervilles" of the Great Depression, I doubt if crime was more rampant THEN and THERE, as it is today, and with good reason; people were trying to get a damn MEAL and a place to keep from freezing their asses off, and no one had anything that a criminal would want.
No one had anything at all.
I would counter that crime follows poverty ONLY because poverty became a good place to "hide" after committing a crime. If you rob a store on the poor side of town, the best place to lay low will be IN THAT AREA, simply due to the fact that people (in general) will not care. And we can't say that poverty is to blame for the apathy. We CAN say that entitlements and welfare IS to blame. That lulls people into a state of doing nothing, because someone else is doing it FOR THEM.
So with all the time on their hands (and government money in their pockets), what better way to kill that time than by committing some crime, just for "shits n grins"?
This is the only case where poverty may cause crime, but NOT directly. It's more of an "extracurricular activity" to these people.
The funny thing is, when crime is allowed to grow, it grows really FAST. And many times, the city is ill-prepared to handle such growth. But if the city were to get a handle on the smaller crimes first, the larger crimes wouldn't be able to establish a foothold. This is the area where many cities fail and what causes entire areas of cities to fall into a "blighted" condition.
It's what causes that first neighbor to flee from their street, opening the doors for crime to move in. It's what allows thugs to take over a block, a neighborhood, and eventually, an entire section of a city.
Trouble is, it COULD have been prevented, if only the citizens were paid more attention to.
When a neighborhood begins to have problems, and the people attempt to engage the city in some manner in order to nip it in the bud, the city should have no choice but to DO WHAT IS NECESSARY in the best interest OF those citizens.
Failure to do so will result in people leaving their neighborhood (and perhaps the city itself), and with these people goes their TAX DOLLARS, which will eat away at the finances of that city, until it begins running in "deficit mode" year after year. We're just starting to see that in Fort Wayne, and I predict that unless and until something is done to reclaim the neighborhoods beset with all the major types of crime, they can kiss their tax revenues bye-bye.
Sooner or later your tax base will be so eroded that those who remain will not be able to carry the city, no matter HOW MUCH you decide to tax them, and since all the section 8'ers aren't all that involved with working OR paying taxes, you're not going to get that much blood from THOSE turnips any time soon, right?
The citizens who see the first rumblings of crime in their area need to man up, stand firm, and protect their properties and their interests as well by utilizing whatever means necessary.
Placing a FOR SALE sign out front won't cut it.
Running from ANY problem will NOT make that problem go away.
But those of us that remained in some neighborhoods ALREADY found that out...didn't we?


Phil Marx said...

Wow, your epic saga sounds so realistic that I almost feel as though I'm actually experiencing it - oh, I am!

Bobby G. said...

Seriously, I'm ONLY telling the FACTS...

Makes other places seem almost TAME, because at some point, things do abate somewhat (there)...NOT here.

I'm sure that the authors of Gilgamesh and Beowulf are smiling.

(also "living the adventure"!)