Monday, January 14, 2008

I love the Bay Area for many reasons. Beautiful weather, interesting folks, progressive politics, lots o' rock/art shows, delicious food. But for all the good things here, the one big load of crap is our powers that be and their seriously misplaced priorities around crime.

The latest incredible story: An intruder breaks into a home in the Haight because he is being chased, and the police do nothing for the apartment dwellers when they call 911. The intruder just continues to stay in the apartment until someone goes outside and drags the police there and they arrest him. Luckily, this intruder wasn't violent, but HELLO! This kind of situation really makes you feel helpless.

There are so many more examples. The whole of People's Park in Berkeley. The fact carjackings in Oakland aren't news until a politician gets jacked in his state car (which, by the way, was a red Dodge Charger with 22 inch rims -- which is a whole other rant). Oakland residents are lauded for citizen patrols to counteract drug dealing and other crimes the police don't have time for, but people who inevitably have to defend themselves run the risk of ridiculous prosecution and receive no back-up. It really makes one feel a little unnerved.

I'm lucky I live in a fairly safe neighborhood -- though I think we're safe only because we're an up and coming restaurant destination for uppity San Franciscans on the edge of a wealthy enclave; ergo, we get a high police presence. So while people get murdered in West Oakland on a regular basis, the meager amount of cops Oakland has are dispatched to allow yuppies to discuss how edgy they are to be eating in my neighborhood after dark (true story overheard as I was following some total tools on my way to Walgreens). Economics, baby, that's what it's all about. But where money is, thugs will come.

I run the gamut in my mind between 1) feeling hopeless and thinking the Bay -- and particularly my beloved Oakland -- is a ticking time bomb where it's just a matter of time before it is my turn, and 2) that we're not particularly crime-ridden for a city of our size, and keeping your wits about you will make things turn out a-okay. It's probably somewhere in-between. The problem is that the thugs are brazen, mostly stupid, and totally random -- and they can be because very often police don't show up until literally hours after something happens and then have "no suspects" for any crime. Hell, we don't even have a forensics department to take fingerprints! That is just wrong.

I don't know all the answers to fix the problem, but I do know we need more cops and less BS from the (police unions, politicians, anarchist groups, or whatever) around hiring those officers. We need these officers, especially for neighborhoods where people are shot in broad daylight on busy corridors. There is no excuse for that to be happening as often as it does. We also need more stepping up from the police around what they consider "petty" crime -- drug-dealing, breaking and entering, muggings, car theft, etc., because these are the gateway crimes.

As I was driving home tonight I saw 4 bicyclists laughing and having a good time while waiting to turn at the corner of 51st and Shattuck at 12:30 at night and for some reason my hope was renewed in the power of people to make Oakland a better place.



Post a Comment

<< Home