Let’s not let our sense of security obscure our common sense
By: Don Kirkland
Sept 27, 2008

While you and I no doubt live on different streets, I’m sure we share a similar sense of security when we walk the dogs or take a relaxed evening stroll around the block.

After all, we’ve lived for so long in neighborhoods where serious crime was comparatively infrequent that we just don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it.

Our police departments will tell us that’s a mistake, of course, but their advice to observe reasonable precautions doesn’t sink in until something happens more or less right next door.

That was the case around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 9, when two youths described as being 15 to 19 years old robbed an area resident while he was retrieving mail from a postal-service cluster box on Jentilly Lane just feet from his house.
Oh, did I mention? One of these guys had a gun.

Teenagers using intimidation or threat to take the belongings of someone else is definitely a crime and definitely behavior that’s unacceptable, whether it’s in our neighborhoods or the barrios of south L.A. But a gun? That brings a whole new dimension to street crime as it applies to the historically crime-resistant neighborhoods of 85284, 85283 and 85226.

Luckily, the homeowner wasn’t roughed up (or shot, which certainly could have happened), and the Tempe Police Department was said to have been prompt and efficient in blanketing the area in search of potential suspects.

But cops, as we know, can’t protect us every waking moment, so it’s up to us to learn a few essential strategies we can use to help us outsmart the people who might consider us easy targets.

Steve Carbajal, a Tempe police sergeant whose job it is to help residents learn some of those strategies, says there are a few fundamental rules we should remind ourselves to follow:

  • Don’t walk alone
  • Carry a cell phone that’s charged and easily obtainable
  • Avoid wearing portable-device earphones in both ears.

The first two suggestions are ones that should be obvious; the third one hadn’t occurred to me, nor I’m sure to some of the folks who run by me, with or without leash in hand.

These and other ideas will be discussed at a meeting called by Jill Cohen, president of the Carver Terrace Neighborhood Association, in which the robbery—said by police to be the first such occurrence in the area in recallable history—took place.

If you live in Carver Terrace, you should attend the meeting, which is being held on the east perimeter of Waggoner Park at Carver and Terrace roads.

If you live elsewhere in south Tempe or west Chandler, it’s a nonetheless good time to participate in your neighborhood’s observance of G.A.I.N. Night, during which residents get together in their respective communities to promote safety and neighborhood communication, and celebrate the successes of crime prevention through community involvement.

This year’s event, a new twist on similar programs planned around the country, will be held in Tempe from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18. Chandler holds its G.A.I.N. program Saturday, Oct. 4. Police departments in both cities can provide details if your neighborhood’s organizers haven’t already informed you about their plans.

One more thought on neighborhood safety: Sgt. Carbajal tells us that Tempe police are unveiling a new Safety Awareness for Everyone, or S.A.F.E., initiative that will help us learn more about sexual assault, traffic enforcement around schools and cool-weather crime prevention, among other important issues.

Like it or not, it’s time for those of us who live in what we’ve thought of as safe neighborhoods to think a little more about the problem of community crime. And to recognize that what we used to read about only in the newspapers can now be right next door.




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