Failing the basics

September 26, 2008

The city is busy making patches to keep its Harrison Square deal from falling apart and trying to recover from the hash it has made of the public safety academy. In the meantime, it is flunking the fundamentals by losing a neighborhood:

The emotion poured out of Sara Tracey on Wednesday as she stared at the bullet hole about 2 feet above her front door at 4035 Reed St.: The fear she felt Tuesday night after plaster from the bullet striking the home sprayed her and her six young children as they did homework in the living room.

[. . .]

Tracey’s home was one of at least three hit by gunshots, along with a pickup, when a gunfight broke out around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday among several men in front of 4030 Reed St. and those inside a passing car, according to witnesses and Fort Wayne Police.

Witnesses said they heard approximately 20 shots and saw the men picking up shell casings outside 4030 Reed St. Police seized two semiautomatic rifles from the home and detained several men. Angela Graham, who lives in the home, declined comment Wednesday.

This is basic stuff. Before you build baseball stadiums or enter into elaborate public-private relationships, you pave the streets and get the trash hauled and fix the streetlights and make people feel safe in their neighborhoods.

This shootout happened just a few blocks from Reed and Senate, where my parents were finally able to buy their own house. After my father died, my mother and sister lived there, until the night bullets hit the house. We never did find out what actually happened, but the consensus seemed to be that it was a gang initiation — drive by a few houses and toss a few bullets in, welcome to the club. The bullets went into the wall just a couple of feet above my sister’s bed. She had been sitting up, reading, and had just lain down. A minute or two earlier, and she would have been killed.

We got my mother and sister out of that house in a few days and into an apartment on the north side. I’ve never been anywhere near that neighborhhod since, and I never intend to be. As far as I’m concerned, they can start at Reed and Senate and just start razing the whole neighborhood from there.

I realize my attitude can be attacked as unhelpful, but do you think I’m the only one who feels that way? How do the people feel who are still trapped in that neighborhhood? If I were still there, I would let the city know that the situation is unacceptable. Commit whatever resources are necessary. Put a cop on every corner and keep them there till all the thugs are gone or dead.

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4 Responses to “Failing the basics”

  1. Bob G. Says:

    A-frigging-MEN, Leo!

    Glad you said what NEEDED to be said about this whole issue.

    I’ve been TRYING to let the city know the situation…and have gotten stonewalled quite well along the way, as have others that feel likewise.
    The city admits we have a “problem”…yet the problem never gets resolved to the betterment of the innocent citizens still in harm’s way.
    Band-aids on broken legs .
    That’s one reason I created MY blog…to get this out in the open (most days anyway).

    And if you ever take a gander at pictures of parts of Detroit…or Cincy…or Chi-Town…or Cleveland, or even Indy, you see that little ever gets done to reclaim neighborhoods that have become “blighted”.
    Carloyn Coe once said on cable access YEARS ago, when referring to bad areas of the south side that “half a stick would do it”.
    It still could work well down here.
    And with scrappers around, the possbility of the (vacant) house on the block exploding is always another imminent threat.
    Why wait?

    Whatever few citizens that are left in the wake of urban decay have to “deal with it” as we are often told..OR move.
    It’s OUR house – THEY are the criminals…make THEM move.

    We didn’t “start the fire” (as Billy Joel sings), and we’re trying our darndest to keep the flames from licking at our doorsteps., but a little recognition AND assistance from the city once in a while WOULD be nice…and welcome, because we all know we don’t NEED Renaissance Pointe.
    We NEED something called PUBLIC SAFETY…and in a lot more areas a lot more often.

    Thanks again, Leo.

    B.G.

  2. Steve G Says:

    This is true. Guiliani’s concept of “broken windows” repair of a neighborhood. Go in with a revived Metro squad, clean out the vermin, fix the broken windows, erase the graffiti, and keep it that way. Then move on to the next neighborhood. This current administration is letting the criminal rule. It’s time to turn this over to Sheriff Fries.

  3. mark Says:

    It’s a shame you don’t have access to a local newspaper, where your views could be more widely read and where reporters could investigate these things.

  4. Bob G. Says:

    …And THANK YOU, Steve!
    Glad to see you also know what the BROKEN WINDOW THEORY is all about.

    Either we reclaim the neighborhoods, OR we just hand them over, part and parcel to the criminal element.
    Time for those in authority to stop walking on eggshells, and put the fear of God back into the thugs.

    So easy…a caveman could do it.
    (with apologies to the cavemen)

    B.G.


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