Friday, October 26, 2012

The wrong message to send on dealing with neighborhood crime

This year the Salemtown neighborhood association has made a troublesome shift on dealing with suspicious behavior that appears to me more about image-control of the brand than about effective community policing and crimewatching.

In previous years association officers encouraged neighbors to call the police directly at their urgent, but non-emergent phone number (862-8600) if any suspicious behavior was observed in Salemtown. The reason members were encouraged to call police on their own was that it usually got faster response and all calls were logged, which helped MNPD determine where future patrols were needed most. Notifying the association was encouraged as a second step, and I do not recall officers attempting to manage how witnesses reported back to SNNA.

In September of this year a message with the title "keeping it local" went out to the association from the SNNA board encouraging association members to contact board members instead of the police directly. The message prescribed "discretion" without "overreacting", and it advised that the "close contact" that the president had to the MNPD liaison for Salemtown could bring more police patrols.

In my opinion Salemtown residents are better advised to call the police directly at their "urgency without emergency" phone number to make sure that witness reports are recorded at the precinct. I do not believe that the association's officers should be filtering witness reports, soft-pedaling, or otherwise judging the validity of people's perspectives for MNPD.

In 8 years here I have watched crime cycles and police response. With two recent murders in or near Salemtown and suspicious activity on the rise, I would encourage my neighbors to bypass the association whenever they witness troubling activity and go straight to the police. Only afterwards should they report the activity to SNNA. And by no means should they abide insinuations that they are overreacting, unless they actually believe that they are or can be reasonably persuaded otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. What your neighborhood directors did was ridiculous, and you have every right to tell,people to ignore them.

    I live in a neighborhood with a neighborhood association, and we have always gotten the advice you have gotten in the past. Non-police not directly involved with anincident shouldn't be making discretionary calls about what is important or not important.

    If given that directive by a couple of banker/lawyer/neighborhood do-gooders , I'd ask them who, at the police station, told them that was a good course of action.