Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's About Community, People

Even if I did not have family and friends in the police force and other branches of law enforcement, I would still say this: they are there to help protect you and help you watch out for your neighborhood. Here is why I am currently making this statement: for the last couple of months, an SUV has been making me suspicious because of its behaviours near my house: parking in front of my house at odd hours, incredibly unsafe driving, and odd interactions between the driver and other people in or outside the SUV. It also tends to make regular visits to a lot and an apartment building near my place, which I can see from my hose. My neighbors and I have been keeping each other informed about it.

This week (at night), I called the police on the SUV and a truck, due to parking near my house after unsafe driving and a stange flurry of activity betweent the two vehicles. When the police responded, I was informed that not only was the owner suspected of dealing drugs, but was wanted as a suspect in a shooting. Needless to say, the officer warned me (repeatedly) to not approach the guy, but call the police if I see the SUV again. Good information for me to have, as I tend to be inclined to handle situations on my own first, before calling for help. I also immediately informed my neighbors and landlord. This is by no means the first time I have called the police and I can guarantee it will not be the last. Currently, the situation is still ongoing and we have been given more information from the police, informing us that the people involved are not only dealing drugs, but stealing cars, prone to violence, and look to be part of a gang. The police keep stressing (especially to my landlord and I) that we need to call emergency if we see anything and not engage the people in the SUV and other vehicles  for our safety. Once again, this new information was immediately shared with our neighbors. This group of young people chose the wrong neighborhood to ply their business in.

For those of you who want to stress demographics concerning police response and focus, I live in a neighborhood that is very mixed. The blend of economic classes, ethinicities, and politics is incredibly diverse. The safety factor is also rather mixed. Some parts of my neighborhood rarely see a police car, other sections (or particular houses) see the police a bit more frequently. My particular portion of the neighborhood is usually pretty safe, but there is a reason for that. My neighbors and I watch out for each other. We do not make it a comfortable place for people who would make it an unsafe environment. We have made a concerted effort to care for each other, get to know each other, communicate with each other, and watch out for each other's homes. We have built a community.

Here's the thing, people. Community is vital. In order for a community to be built, people need to take an interest in and responsibility for their neighborhoods (living or work). That means getting to know the people around you and watching out for them, as well as encouraging them. They, in turn, will end up watching out for you. The police and other first responders are a part of my community, both home and work. This means I will watch out for them just as much as I want to help protect the people in my home neighborhood (in case you have not noticed, I have a over-developed protective streak).

Community, people, community. It is about relationships and investments in the people around you and being INTENTIONAL. Relationships and communities do not grow or mend if people do not make the effort. Community encompasses more than ethnicity, religion, politics, or employment (or lack thereof). Community encompasses each individual, imperfect person.

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