We can make our neighborhoods safer

William T. Robinson, Jr.

We are constantly reminded on a daily basis of the rising insurgence of crime in our cities and neighborhoods. We are quick to point at the shortcomings in the criminal justice system and how it disproportionately affects African Americans and people of color. There is no question that changes are necessary in policing policies and procedures referring to police brutality. But in all honesty, the biggest problem may be with the citizens themselves regarding how they can do a better job in reporting and preventing criminal activities in their communities.

All too often, we find African Americans, who are too eager to support the behavior of Blacks accused of serious crimes without knowing the full details. Some criminal activities escalate to the point of deadly assault and homicide because of the failure of people in some communities to address and report known criminal elements already occurring in their neighborhoods.

There are a multitude of reasons why some people remain quiet, not saying anything about noted and active criminal participants in their communities until it affects them personally. They are reluctant to squeal on family members, relatives, friends and peers involved in serious criminal activities, even when the criminal activities are detrimental to the community. The practice of not snitching on someone in the community allows perpetrators of incendiary crimes to run rampart. The police have their hands full. The lack of those in the community offering information vital to securing much needed arrests makes the situation worse—especially regarding felonies such as selling controlled drugs, carjacking, rape, arson, kidnapping, burglaries, aggravated assaults, homicides, and terrorism.

The way things are going now, the only winners in many communities are the criminals. They know that for the most part, no one will snitch on them. However, it is understandable why many inhabitants of predominantly Black communities don’t trust law enforcement agencies because of a long history of blatant discrimination, abuse, and even murder by police officers taking place in some cities. But while we are demanding changes in policies and practices by law enforcement agencies, we must do our part to help decimate or eradicate serious crimes in our own neighborhoods.

We must advocate for more programs to counsel and offer preventative measures and coping skills to aide young people from becoming involved in gangs and crime. First time offenders for misdemeanors must be assigned mentors, but we must also have dire consequences for offenders that will truly deter them from future involvement in crime.

We all know that poverty is a major contributor to crime, but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse for perpetrators of serious crimes looking for minor consequences. It doesn’t help when some lawyers and judges make excuses and recommend probation or small sentences for chronic offenders. These offenders know they can use their social and financial shortcomings as a means of seeking sympathy and leniency.

The old mantra “If you do the crime, be prepared to do the time” is what mainstream America is calling for. They demand equal deliberation of the law regardless of race, gender, religion, or group affiliation. Americans are emphatically crying out that they want to feel safe and protected.

Black America, like most Americans, are not anti-law. They are demanding fairness and equality in the execution and deliberation of the law. As human beings, African Americans just want to be safe and protected by law enforcement agencies sworn to protect us. If the law is enforced without disproportionately targeting Blacks and people of color, policing everyone equally, you will see a large rise in support for law enforcement agencies.

But often the criminal justice system seems more dedicated to rehabilitating the chronic criminal than bringing justice to the victims of heinous crimes. There must be more concern for law-abiding citizens than criminals, especially those victims of murder or sustained lifelong injuries. The psychological damage done by criminals to their victims is permanent. There should be a monumental movement to demand true justice for victims of crime. Hopefully, this would help deter criminal activity and empower citizens to ban together to call out criminals and criminal behavior in their communities.

No one should have to apologize for wanting to live in a safe and protected neighborhood. This can be attained regardless of the economic status of the neighborhood. But it starts with members of the neighborhood forming a meaningful and respectful relationship with law enforcement agencies.

The neighborhoods must also have a call for an ‘all-out war’ against negative criminal agents in their neighborhoods. Let everyone know that criminal activity will not be tolerated by any means in your neighborhood.

Reporting suspected criminal behavior is better than waiting for an unwanted, unnecessary outcome. Your neighborhood can be as safe as you are willing to make it.

Neighborhoods must overcome their fear of criminals and work together to abolish criminal elements in their community with the help of the law. You can choose to complain among yourselves or bring about change. Remember you are the agent of change. Do your part in creating a safer neighborhood.

Leave a Reply