here is a washington post article about dealing with crime in our neighborhoods.
The problem of conflict resolution surrounds us. One commenter on this blog recommended shipping troubled kids off to other neighborhoods, but the problem is actually embedded in our society, everywhere.
We stick to our own, however we define that. If our people get looked at the wrong way, we fight back. If our country gets dealt, we deal something harder.
It’s the same code for "civilized" America as it is in the street. It’s a problem I find deeply disturbing. We are very quick to look and to judge. We are quick to retaliate. As a society we support retribution.
I have two elderly neighbors that I deeply respect and admire. Both have lived in the neighborhood their whole life, both have live on my street for 30 years+. Both are among the friendliest people I have ever met. Both face down the thugs they encounter but in two different ways. Despite their similar experiences in location both deal with street crime and thugs very differently.
One, a former working class man with kids, and a bevy of grandkids who seems to know everyone on a strong basis. He grew up a trouble maker, not a fighter so much as a mischief maker. His experiences as a kid make me think of my experiences as a troublemaking street kid. He knows the thugs well, by name. He knows what they are up to. He knows a lot about them. When they cross his line of decency he asks them to stop. If they don’t listen, he calls the cops, and tells them so. His dealings are tolerant, frank, and clear. He comes across as just an average guy, but with an amazing capacity for tolerance and forgiveness. In his life he's needed to utilize that a lot.
The other is a woman whom for her age is a miracle. It’s crazy how strong and active she is. I pray I’m that healthy in my senior ages. She is a former professional and extremely crime intolerant. EXTREMELY. She expects and demands ZERO crime on our street. She too, knows the thugs, but won’t use their names because she feels they don’t deserve it till they shape up. She threatens THEM. She too, has had death threats made against her, but her bravery is unsurpassed. She laughs at them. Her approach to crime is to call 911; them call the police office, and then leave a message with the mayor’s office. Then call to check up on the action. She is a die-hard. She is a very classy put together woman that emanates the expectation that you will act your very best in front of her.
I feel fortunate to have these neighbors and feel that they have done tons to deal with crime on my street, in their own very different ways. Its seems to me that both of these tactics are necessary to deal with our street culture of lack of respect. I wish that this micro tactic could be brought to a city-wide level, but I don’t know how to do it.