Police Station near my neighborhood.
My Neighborhood at 3rd Street and Buckeye Road.
As I was sitting at the South Mountain Park at the ramada February 8th, listening to Officer Rod Snodgrass discuss his policing experience in South Phoenix I expected him to say that there was more crime in the area where I live which is roughly around 3rd Street and Buckeye Road, it is the area that he patrols nightly. He mentioned that the main problem were drugs, and not violent crimes. I suddenly realized that the perspective that I have is one from the community looking out and that his perspective is one that is from outside looking in.
He mentioned many important reasons why crime is not deterred in our
area. The most important reason is the lack of community involvement.
My husband and I manage ten apartments units in South Phoenix, including
the apartment that we live in. I remember when issues would come up and
I would talk to my neighbors and tenants and no one wanted to get involved.
Everyone has their own reasons, fear of this or that and so crime continues
to happen. I began to think back about the experiences that I have had
in my neighborhood and the types of crimes that occur and never get reported.
My neighborhood has many stories to tell. My neighborhood has
taken several drug houses down, yet as soon as one closes two more open.
Being so close to the downtown area the types of people using these services
really surprised me. They are not your typical junkie, homeless, and jobless
person, they are people in suits driving a Mercedes Benz or driving up
in well known company vehicles. The neighborhood has also seen domestic
violence at its worse, where small children are involved. My neighborhood
has witnessed the smuggling of people into the United States and their
search for jobs. Recently, it witnessed a "gang" fight in the community
park on a Friday after school while children were playing (incidentally,
the bus drops almost 50% of the kids in front of the park.) All this is
not to mention the drunk driving, speeding, prostitution, selling of fraudulent
documents or stolen goods, the racial tensions and the break-ins of resident
cars and homes, that almost weekly go unreported.
There have been times that the community has called on the police and
they either take too long to respond or they don't have a Spanish speaking
officer, which usually results in no further investigation. There
are many police patrolling when there are downtown events such as baseball,
basketball, and hockey games, because at such times we have many outsiders
parking in our neighborhood. Yet there is no genuine connection between
the police and the community. Language is probably the most detrimental
reason. The neighborhood is mostly Spanish speaking, and there aren't always
Spanish speaking detectives available. Another factor is the preconceived
notion that the police cant stop all criminal activity.
I truly believe that the lack of community involvement is the reason
why the police and the community consider my neighborhood a dangerous place
at night. From the police officers point of view if the crime doesn't get
reported it's just as good as it didn't happen. People don't really see
the police officers as a member of the community because, I have yet to
meet a law enforcement agent who lives in my community. Residents want
brighter and safer neighborhoods, but without direct involvement its only
a desire. As a member of the community I've learned the
best time to stroll our community park is usually during the afternoon
on weekdays or anytime Sunday. I've also learned the worst time to be out
doing anything is after 10:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Living with restrictions
is difficult especially when friends or relatives from out of town visit
because they also share the apprehension that comes with spending a night
in South Phoenix.
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