It’s no secret that our area is fostering a dangerous criminal element currently. As reported by several others, this past weekend’s violence evidenced the deadly nature of it all. I don’t have much to add to the discussion of recent events, so I'll offer up a few measures that we can do ourselves to curb this stuff.
1. Gang Prevention – this website about gang prevention offers some interesting insight into how communities can help prevent gang involvement. In my uneducated and humble opinion on the subject, gangs are an outgrowth of larger societal shortcomings that we need to proactively address. Our children need better schools, more opportunities for character growth, better role models, more activities, and more community building. So how about organizing a field trip for a group of at-risk youth to a high ropes course, mentoring a kid one afternoon a week (even if “mentoring” meant simply taking him/her out for a coke and talking about their life?) or tutoring at a local school? It seems our local churches and other area institutions fall woefully short in engaging our (or maybe enough of our) neighborhood youth.
2. Graffiti Fighting – I’ve observed a lot more graffiti in our area and in D.C. as a whole lately. Graffiti gives off the impression that neighbors do not notice or care about the decimation of their surroundings. It invites more graffiti and criminal activity. How about painting over graffiti every weekend (admittedly I meant to do this every other weekend this year but have fallen short of my promise to myself)?
3. Leave Your Outside Lights on All Night - Light up the night to give criminals fewer places to hide. The energy and corresponding money expended are well worth it.
4. Form a Neighborhood Watch – The D.C. Police Department can help in forming such a neighborhood watch. Based on my reading of their website on the subject , forming a neighborhood watch seems like a relatively simple thing to do and, if nothing else, is a great exercise in community-building. Indeed, I plan to form one on my block.