Sunday, September 04, 2016

recent neighborhood crimes are a wake-up call

See this post from a resident on the unit block of Randolph Place NW:

For a broader audience in Bloomingdale:

The recent armed robberies on our street(s) and in the immediate vicinity are a real wake-up call, and if they are not, then they should be to everyone. It is just really hard to know what other people are doing about this, without any communication or meetings or the like. 

It's certainly going to be helpful in deterring crimes of opportunity for us -- neighbors, guests, family -- to be hanging out on the front porches, stoops, and back decks and gardens. That said, I also know that most people will not be sipping a beer, cocktail, or orange juice on the porch at 1:50 AM -- so the crime last night would not have been prevented by that (i.e., a more communal and neighborly attitude) alone.  Porch lights, though, do help.  So do video cameras, which I wrote about before, as well as just more situational awareness by everyone; and saying "hello" to strangers and looking everyone in the eyes, etc., as opposed to walking down the street with the head down and headphones firmly implanted in the ears. 

At this point, clearly, this very violent crime spree of the summer of 2016 has now exceeded the common "summer crime height" that we are used to seeing in the District -- it is a more systemic failure.  It may be related, at least in part, to gentrification, to businesses that temporarily draw customers from outside the neighborhood every evening and into the night (creating easy prey), too-cool-for-school "hipsters" who refuse to acknowledge the presence of others and do not say hello when greeted by strangers, and just generally new folks in the neighborhood with very good intentions, who are simply not yet fully used to its old "code" of coexisting respectfully among all ages, races, and respecting the fact that we are, in the sense of community, a microcosm of a "southern" town, so to speak, where people who don't know each other still greet each other, even if just with a head nod.  I know that this sounds corny, and it does not seem like a crime-fighting methodology that is approved by the 'authorities', but I'm certain if everybody did it, it would work wonders.

I have spoken with several residents who have lived here for a long time, and they are seriously disturbed by the attitude of the many visitors and newcomers who are not reciprocating a simple "hello" on the sidewalk. 

Our neighborhood is clearly targeted -- from the (now almost quaint) package theft incident, to break-ins, all the way to gunpoint robberies. Let's do something about it.



14 comments:

  1. I am as disturbed as anyone by the crime increase, and would encourage you all to read the WaPo interview with outgoing Chief Lanier on the revolving door of DC criminal justice. If features CM McDuffie's platitudinous and offensive non-response that residents “aren’t interested in hearing that one agency within the system of criminal justice didn’t do its part." Actually we are and we expect you to fix it.

    I find it bizarre, however, to suggest that if everyone said hello to each other criminals would stop coming to our neighborhood in the wee morning hours and violently attacking people. This is a total distraction from the problem facing our neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    2. Ted, agreed re: your comment that MPD needs to step up. But as to the other point, you fail to realize that situational awareness goes hand in hand with communication. Many robberies in the 'hood are highly unprofessional acts of crime, perpetrated not by true gangsters but by ignorant kids (who have been through the judicial system once or twice before, nothing serious happened to them, and so they are back on the street and feel invincible). These are, in other words, *crimes of opportunity* -- and if the would-be victim *acknowledged* them, looked the perp(s) in the eyes, nodded "hi," and kept on walking, the crime might not have occurred (for various reasons, but one important reason being that the perp would fear being identified, vs. the "heads-down", stare-at-the-pavement mentality that is being criticized here). We have all seen the ludicrously bad level of eyewitness identification of the perps in the police reports and "look-outs". We are supposed to look out for whom?! "3 B/Ms, dark pants." Really, eyewitness? Really MPD? so: yes: acknowledge each other, be more neighborly, and avoid at least SOME crimes of opportunity.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. I actually understand the concept of saying hello and trying to maintain the "neighborhood" feel. Not only does it strengthen the relationships of the neighborhood, it will also help everyone get a feel for what "right looks like" and when someone--or something--is out of place. While no, it won't fix the problem, it may help to assuage some of the contributing factors.

    At this point, for any number of reasons, I feel it's highly unlikely that we'll see a dramatic turn in numbers due to law enforcement efforts. But then again, the best crime mitigation has never been more police--it is and has always been a more involved, cooperating neighborhood.

    We're slow to add our security cameras to the watch, but hopefully will get them up this week. That said, I can't help but notice very few (none?) other cameras on our block. And all the front porch lights are out. With LED bulbs running less than $5 and lasting for 5+ years with less power required than your cell phone, there isn't an economical reason turn the front or back porch lights out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree. Security cameras and porch lights are critical. I am shocked at the number of people who have have not purchased cameras and keep their lights off.

      Delete
  3. I have no idea if speaking would solve the crime spike. However, as an old timer, I'm regularly offended by "neighbors" who do not speak or seem shocked/surprised when I speak. I generally walk away thinking "who raised these people?" Let's acknowledge each other out of common courtesy. Perhaps more in depth converses will follow and lead to resolution of the crime issues. MarshaB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As somebody raised by "old timers", aka people who have lived in their same neighborhood for 30+ years, albeit not this one, it was ingrained in me not to speak to strangers. I agree that saying hello in passing is one way we can work to reduce these crimes and be more in tune to what is out of place in the neighborhood, BUT not saying hello is not me (or likely others of my generation) being rude and refusing to say hi, it is what we were taught by our parents, who were of the same generation as most of the commenters here. After reading posts like this and many other news articles about crime in the District I am making a conscious effort to get to know my neighbors in an effort to be a part of that community feel I hear so much about and to do my part to reduce crime, however slight it may be. But please don't blame us for doing what our parents, people of you generation, taught us to do! It takes a lot of practice to unlearn a behavior.

      Delete
  4. as an old timer who survived the crime associated with the crack epidemic in the 1990s i can say with certitude that looking people in the eye, saying hi, and generally noting who and what and reporting things DOES WORK. When we did the Orange Hat patrols and without police support (!) we broke up the drug markets to some degree and made it safer for everyone. Cameras good, alertness good, but it is individuals connecting that works.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm one of the relative late-comers to Bloomingdale (been here since 2012, in DC since 2004). I don't know whether greetings and conversations will necessarily help with the violent and non violent crime in our neighborhood, but it sure won't hurt! And the neighborly feel of Bloomingdale was one of the attractions for us when we bought our house to start our family here; we want to preserve that too. I'm from the North and a relative newcomer, but we say hello, have little conversations (usually involving some antic of one or more of our kids) and are teaching our kids to say hello. So we are not all rejecting those neighborly ways! But I will be the first to admit we are a rarity; we often surprise older people when we do it if they haven't met us before, and other younger residents / newcomers often ignore us too. Or get irritated by our stroller horde coming down the sidewalk. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. And you know what? It's not just the new-comers who don't speak. I just don't take it personally. When someone says hello and the courtesy is not returned in some way, I see it as a personality flaw. It happens to me all the time -- from new-comers AND old-timers alike. But you can't shame them into speaking. So crime deterrent? Probably not. On the other hand, being friendly could help in solving crime. For instance, if my neighbor is unfriendly, doesn't exchange pleasantries, then maybe I won't give a hoot if I see someone on their porch looking around or peering into their car...Just saying

    ReplyDelete
  7. AND I agree with Jeff: Turn on your porch lights!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Scott, thank you so much for this thoughtful and well-written call for neighborhood awareness, common courtesy, and creating community. I absolutely agree that these small actions can go a long way in maintaining a safe and welcoming neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete