The recent spate of gun violence in Baltimore has its police department pulling out the enforcement stops, elected officials asking pointed questions and communities wondering how safe they really are. Make no mistake about it, public safety is not just a policing challenge. It is an assertive strategy that must be considered at every level, including the grass-roots level within Baltimore’s most at-risk communities.
Is there inherent community and personal risk in giving police information, reporting in-progress crime and cooperating with prosecutors – absolutely! However, the greater risk is to remain silent, do nothing and pretend the criminal element will eventually disappear. If residents allow criminals to get a stranglehold on their neighborhoods and in their schools, citizens will eventually become prisoners in their own homes and fail to live, work and raise their families as they’d like. While law enforcement must do everything in its power to remove violent criminals, they cannot do it alone. Neighbors must courageously help their community by getting involved; here’s how:
- Understand what numbers to call or the various points of contact are for all levels of law enforcement (both anonymous tip lines and emergency numbers);
- Join or start a Neighborhood Watch in your area. Partner with community members to strengthen the community bond and improve the relationship between the community and local police officials;
- Host community meetings with police officers; get to know the officer who patrol your neighborhood;
- Contact your local police department to request informal lectures, free literature, and advice on how to detect and address criminal activity;
- Get to know your neighbors. By familiarizing yourself with the usual lifestyles and activities of your neighbors, it makes it much easier to detect suspicious activity and report a potential crime before it occurs;
- Establish on-going crime prevention techniques in your neighborhood. Learn about current safety policies and implement new rules where necessary;
- Educate yourself, family, friends, and neighbors on how to identify a suspicious person or unusual/criminal activity;
- If you suspect criminal activity, don’t hesitate to call the police immediately and give them a detailed description;
- Know what steps to take in the event of an emergency. Don’t wait for someone else to contact the local officials, take matters into your own hands and protect your community.
Always remember – if you see something, say something! Working together, police and the communities they serve can reduce crime and improve the quality of life. A crisis management and communications company, the Fallston Group focuses on working with organizations to help them prepare for, navigate through and recover from issues of adversity and crisis. Fallston Group experts are often called upon to interview, lecture and write about public safety issues. For more information, contact the Fallston Group at 410-420-2001 or email email@example.com.
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