Policing and Crime in My neighborhood

MVC-014F.JPG (45815 bytes)MVC-015F.JPG (46470 bytes)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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