By Amelia McLear
It’s no secret that for the past month or so there has been a serious uptick of robberies in Midtown. As a longtime Midtown resident and now, a Midtown homeowner, I have been following the news very closely and, I hate to say it, I’ve changed the way I live and how (un)comfortable I feel in my surroundings. I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating how I feel about all of this and I’ve narrowed it down to three sentiments.
- Frustrated. I’m frustrated because I feel like there are some long-term systemic issues that have never adequately addressed in Midtown and thus make it easier for criminals to commit crimes in my neighborhood (hello, can we get some street lights in Midtown?? There are some INCREDIBLY dark areas in Midtown, including many of the areas where these robberies were committed – the entire length of H Street for one. AND, can we ever get some kind of plan to deal with the homeless, especially the homeless who are clearly mentally ill or unable to take care of themselves in a hygienic and safe manner? Why is it OK for people to not actively work to get these folks into a safe setting rather than wandering down my street covered in filthy blankets?? Clearly these folks cannot make sound judgments. So, with compassion, there must be some organization that can do that for them. I cannot abide that the more compassionate choice would be for them to continue their life on the street versus in a safe place with food, water and medical care).
- Angry. I am angry because being a Sacramento native I can remember a time when Midtown REALLY was in a poor state and there was no reason anyone would stay around after 6pm. Now that there is all of this economic revitalization and community rejuvenation in Midtown, I am ANGRY at the thugs who think they can come into my neighborhood and scare, rob and take whatever they please from whomever they please. No. Not here, not now. This is my Midtown. This is the Midtown of my friends, neighbors and colleagues; the Midtown of hipsters, middle-aged empty-nesters, seniors, artists, young professionals, and people who are trying to create something special in Sacramento. How DARE criminals think they can come in here and mess that up?? We cannot let the criminals win!
- Scared. I truly am scared and that sucks. My husband and I bought pepper spray last week and have practiced using it in the alley behind our house. We had friends over to house last Saturday night and they all drove. These are friends who also live in Midtown but rather than walking or biking like they usually would, they drove over because they thought it would be safer. Now I don’t walk anywhere now without my hands on my pepper spray and eyes constantly moving. When does that end? When can we go back to normal? When will I not be worried? I’m scared because I could have been that girl who was shot while trying to evade a purse-snatcher – any of us could have been that girl. And now she’s in the hospital.
I did attend the Midtown public safety meeting last week and I think the biggest success was that by 200 people taking their time to attend a two-hour meeting to discuss crime and safety in their own neighborhood, it sent a remarkable message to our elected officials and police department that this is an issue many people feel very strongly about. We all want to see the city take the kind of action that keeps Midtown on a positive path of economic revitalization and community livability.
Some good tips and contact information that was shared at the meeting from the Sacramento Police Department:
- Report the crime (whether it’s a car break-in, bike theft, mugging, etc). The police can only allocate resources and staffing appropriately if they know where crime is happening. If residents in Midtown under-report crimes (which the police believe is happening), then we won’t get our fair share of public safety funding. You can report many crimes online and to report more violent crimes, call the police at (916) 264-5471.
- When you are walking home at night, some safety tips include:
- Walk in pairs
- Keep your finger on the panic button of your key fob so you can press it in case of emergency
- Carry pepper spray with you and have it ready in your hand as you are walking
- Turn the location setting “on” on your smartphone, iPad, etc. The police can track and locate any stolen property that way and also use it to track the criminals. Captain Bernard said many criminals are usually not smart enough to think about that once they’ve stolen something.
- If you have an emergency in the City of Sacramento but you are on a cell phone, call the police cell phone emergency number at (916) 732-0100. Do not call 911 because those calls all get routed to the California Highway Patrol if you are on a cell phone and it can take longer to get to the right jurisdiction.
- For non-emergencies, the police contact number is (916) 264-5471.
Here are some social media sites that I have also started following that seem to track crime in Midtown: @SacPolice, @OnScene, @SacramentoPress, and @CrimeWatch.
Also, you can sign up for the Midtown Neighborhood Association Yahoo Group here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/