So the community came together for a town hall on crime after several shootings. Right after the police, council members, community activists and concerned residents met to discuss what could be done about it, there was another local shooting.
But no, I’m not talking about the recent meeting at the civic center. I’m talking about the town hall that took place March 21, 2012, at Fairview Elementary School that was put together by Raymond and Teresa Courtemanche with Fairfield police. The day after the meeting, a man was carjacked and shot in broad daylight in the Chuck E. Cheese parking lot after a marijuana deal went bad.
This year, two days after the April 29 community meeting on crime, two people were shot near Laurel Creek Park.
But what happens after high-profile shootings and crimes is that when the violence dies down and there aren’t newspaper headlines announcing the latest hometown horror, we get complacent. We lose that sense of urgency. That’s human nature. We’ve all got things going on in our lives that need our attention.
I saw this happen in my neighborhood when we had a problem with a house of malcontents. Our neighborhood watch group came together and worked to finally get that cancer off the street. In the aftermath, without an urgent threat, the group fizzled out. Now there is another problem house and we have to scramble to get the band back together.
So what happened between that Fairview meeting and the civic center meeting? What didn’t we do?
One new idea that has popped up is Mayor Harry Price’s nine-member crime commission, diverse members that will issue a report in September.
I don’t blame Councilman John Mraz and others who are skeptical that a crime commission will make a difference here. History is replete with commissions and panels that come together, study an issue and submit reports that no one reads or implements. By now when the public hears about a new commission, it’s shorthand for government appearing to do something without doing anything.
With that said, a panel will only hurt if we sit back and wait for their report without doing anything in the interim. Then, when the report comes in, we’ll see if any of its recommendations are actually implemented.
In the meantime, if you haven’t started a neighborhood watch, then do so. Bring up the idea the next time you see a neighbor outside.
One of the points both the police and school superintendent mentioned at the civic center meeting is that truancy is the biggest predictor of teen crime. Kids who cut school aren’t doing it to spend more time at the library studying. So, parents, make sure your kids are in school and they’re not out at night.
Stay vigilant. Little things can make a big difference. Don’t wait until the next big town hall two years from now. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]