Friday, June 8, 2007

TROUBLE TOWN, Pt. 5: Readers Write about cops, criminals, and slumlords

-- "...crimes are devastating..."  Columbia Police Captain Zim Schwartze
-- "...often racist police..."  Environmental specialist Peter Yronwode  
-- "Keep at it!"  Journalist Betty Cook Rottmann  
-- "...landlords do nothing..."  Boone County resident Nida Palmer
-- "Changes will come!"  Progressive Women leader Nancy Harter   
-- "...stunning the disregard..."  Blue Note Founder Richard King

Some of the information you received from [Third Ward resident] Thad Simmons is incorrect.  He did not tell you about all of our efforts in his area over the past two years. 
We began focusing on this area (Beat 25) in August 2005.  We made a strong and concentrated effort in January 2006, and then held a neighborhood meeting on Ballenger Lane (about 60 in attendance) in February 2006.  I have also met with Mr. Simmons and numerous neighbors in my office and through email. 
In his area, I put in additional officers -- both uniform and plain clothes -- and had off-duty officers and sergeants walk extra on a regular basis.  We conducted surveillance, enacted search warrants, and made numerous arrests.
Trying to build a positive relationship with the community we serve and get info out to citizens, I also asked the Missourian to do a story on the problems in Beat 25 in June 2006.   I called Mr. Simmons personally and asked if he would be willing to talk with the reporter. 
With CPD Sergeant John White, I organized another Beat 25 neighborhood meeting in the Chief's Conference Room in September 2006, where I informed the neighbors that I am a burglary victim myself and thoroughly understand what they are feeling. 
Overall, I have had numerous contacts from neighbors as they reported drug dealing, problem houses, and problem people.   I have been told that Mr. Simmons does not speak for them and they appreciate our efforts.  I know these folks on a first name basis and am happy to say that due to our efforts, they have not called as often over the last few months.

I am not sure where Mr. Simmons has obtained the [crime and enforcement] statistics he has used over the past year.  When I show him statistics that crime is decreasing in Beat 25 -- how the problem is actually below where it has been in recent years -- Mr. Simmons does not acknowledge them. 

And although I am able to show how crime in his area, primarily burglaries and larcenies, is below central Columbia,  Mr. Simmons has repeatedly asked me to take officers away from "those people" and place them in his area.  I cannot take officers away from beats where shootings and assaults are a priority.  I realize larceny and burglary crimes are devastating, but they are a lower priority than a shooting.  
We have also asked neighbors in his area to become part of "Neighborhood Watch" repeatedly. But only two have signed up and Mr. Simmons refuses. 
I am an adjunct instructor for Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.   I teach ways to allocate and deploy resources.  I told Mr. Simmons I did not just randomly pick a number of officers and assign them to Beat 25, but rather based assignments on number and severity of calls for service we receive annually. 
I do not have unlimited resources and only have a set number of officers to assign on the East side of town.  We have been doing the best we can with what we have.  Mr. Simmons has chosen to ignore our efforts and continues to make untrue statements, as he has done with you.  It is very concerning that an individual continually makes negative remarks about the Police Department that are totally inaccurate.

I would be happy to show you all statistics, memos, emails, documents, etc from my Beat 25 file.   
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.
-- Captain Zim Schwartze
   East District Commander
   Columbia Police Department
   Columbia, Missouri
There is something to what you report here, but remember:  even people accused of a crime by our often racist police department need a place to live. 
-- Peter Yronwode, Columbia, Missouri
Keep at it!   We in North Central Columbia have been working for years for the nuisance law.
-- Betty Cook Rottmann, Columbia, Missouri

This is all well and good, but what about those of us who live out in the county and have "troubled neighborhoods?"
I know of at least two neighbors who have been arrested for drug crimes and their landlords do nothing to them. They still reside in our neighborhood and they still have all kinds of odd traffic coming in and out of here at ALL hours of the day and night.
It's been reported to the authorities and it doesn't seem to do much good.  It would only do good if the authorities would follow up on the complaints.
-- Nida Palmer, Boone County, Missouri
Great what you are doing. Changes will come!  What you are discovering needs to get more into mainstream newspapers. 
Interesting comment about Bob Hutton, especially given his daughter's letter to the Tribune editor.  They are good at impugning others, but need to "look in their own back yard" and clean it up.  
-- Nancy Harter Columbia, Missouri
I am a member of the Alcohol Awareness Program chaired by Kim Dude of the Wellness Resource Center.   We meet on the 2nd Tuesday of the month on campus. 
It is stunning the disregard that some folks have for their neighbors and for the police.  This problem is talked about at all of our meetings.  
Although the problem is citywide, it always seems better to use resources from all over.  At these meetings you will find representatives of neighborhood groups, Columbia Police Department. Missouri Alcohol and Tobacco, and student organizations.   You might want to pass this along.
-- Richard King  Columbia, Missouri

No comments:

Post a Comment