Tuesday, March 22, 2005

News Coverage of West End Crime

Now that all the media frenzy around the West End crime spree seems to be subsiding, it seems entirely fair to ask, what was the big deal? I do not mean to be cavalier about other people's hardships, but the increased crime on the west side is not out of the ordinary for city dwellers, especially for those residents who do not take precautions to deter crime, like using an alarm system or shutting curtains at night.

Perhaps the news is that there are some very affluent people who unrealistically expect to live in a city without crime; so much so that they think that they can leave their doors unlocked and not get robbed.

I lived around the West End area for a long time. It is more affluent than the north, south, and east ends of town; and residents I observed were relatively laid back, perhaps even cavalier themselves about ever being the victims of crime. I have also witnessed and experienced more crime while living on the east and north ends than I did while living in the West End area. The flip side of these anecdotes is that those who live in higher crime rate areas are less laid back about security and more vigilant about criminals. Ironically, the west side opened itself up to a crime wave because it was not prepared.

That is not to say that west end residents deserved to be the victims of crime. That would be too strong. But some proverbial chickens have come home to roost, because the bad guys figured out how--as bad guys are oft to do--to exploit weaknesses in home defense systems and gated communities. Crime that was once considered endemic to other areas, but farfetched on West End, came to West End. And the news of it was sensational.

But the media should have focused less on the sensation of the west side's rising crime wave and more on the continuity of crime across Nashville. Criminal behavior causes a sense of urgency among all law-abiding Nashville residents, regardless of the direction of the compass point.

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