LTE: Engaged residents have an impact

Thank you for the recognition you gave the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association’s Block Watch in Bunny’s column last week. You are absolutely right—active and engaged residents have an impact on the quality of life in their neighborhood. Thanks to the leadership of Heather Welch and the participation of many Scarritt residents and the police, our neighborhood is making real proactive changes.

Some would say that neighborhoods should focus on the good news in order to attract new residents and keep existing ones. In a perfect world that might work but we live in a world with issues that bombard us daily. Ignoring them does not lead to change. It leads to residents that convince themselves that there is nothing they can do. There is no solution and this is the best that life can be. I don’t believe this and fortunately there are many people who are a part of our block watch network and the police department who work closely with us, who don’t believe it.

There are times when the statistics become discouraging, particularly when they are used to represent an area as a place to be avoided at all cost when people have put so much time and energy into improving the place they call home. Those of us living here daily and working to change our neighborhood know that isn’t true. We are a place of wonderful and diverse people who know each other, unique housing with values that have increased significantly, filled with assets such as 300 acres of parks, a historic museum being renovated, a playground filled daily with children and picnicking families where transients used to hang out drinking and drugging; where residents were afraid to be.

I have repeatedly heard Chief of Police Smith and Major Thomas among others, commend our efforts and hold us up as an example of how neighborhoods should work if they want to solve their crime problems. It gives me great pride as president of the neighborhood. It wasn’t all that long ago that I couldn’t get residents to grasp the importance of calling 911 to report crime. That has changed. The response rate of the police has improved in our neighborhood. People are reporting illegal behavior rather than turning a blind eye, and police are effectively following up on those reports and placing more resources into our community.

Our response when people attack our community for its high level of reported crime should be that we are a neighborhood filled with people to be reckoned with and we refuse to sit back and allow criminals to feel comfortable in our presence. In fact, we are doing everything we can to grow our numbers so that we can do everything possible to report even more crime to drive the criminal element out of our midst. I hope that more Scarritt Renaissance residents will reach out and join our block watch at 207.619.0773/crimewatch@scarrittkc.org) and I hope that other neighborhoods will join the effort.

-Leslie Caplan
President, Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association

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