Last night a police helicopter circled over Salemtown, shining its spot light around houses up and down the street. We called the police to ask for details; we wanted to find out whether we should be concerned and on guard. We got a mixed message. Dispatch told us that they were looking for a person of interest, but that the call they received on him did not seem serious. However, dispatch did also encourage us to keep our doors locked as a precaution.
In East Nashville, Council Member Mike Jamison called a community meeting last night with the Chapel Avenue area residents and police to discuss crime and the recent murder of Eric Mansfield. That murder is currently getting considerable publicity since Mr. Mansfield was a Music Row Executive. Jamison told a News 2 reporter last night that the neighborhood association in the Chapel Avenue area had fallen into some disuse and that neighbors were not a vigilant in the neighborhood as they once were when the association was functioning well.
The neighborhood around Chapel Avenue has exploded with development over the past couple of years. When I lived in East Nashville, the area looked more overtly transitional; but even with the development and its popularity, the area is still transitional and needs to be treated by the neighbors as such. Development should never spawn complacency or a false sense of security. If the neighborhood watch had still been aggressively functioning last Friday night, perhaps a neighbor might have spotted the murder suspect beforehand and perhaps a call to police and a patrol response might have saved Mr. Mansfield's life.
While crimes in neighborhoods are not the fault of victims, the functioning presence of neighborhood associations and watches does prevent crime. Both last night's North End copter search and East Nashville's spike in crimes demonstrate the need for neighbors to stay vigilant and to watch their streets like stalking hawks. Police also need to find better ways to pass on information about suspect searches in neighborhoods as they are unfolding. The mixed message police gave us last night in the North End was not helpful.
11/16/2005, 5:35 p.m. Update: The Central Precinct reported to me that police officers--including those in the helicopters--responded to a call of a possible shooting at 6th Ave., North and Garfield St on Nov. 14. After searching the area and talking with numerous neighbors around the area, it was determined to be a false call.