At Monday night’s general meeting, we heard from Mike Petetit, chair of Lafayette Square’s safety committee.  The neighborhood’s approach to crime has proven wildly successful for them, taking them from the 27th safest neighborhood to the 9th safest in two years.  Without a taxing district.

This is so much more than citizen patrols.

The approach involves everything from “observe and report” methods that have worked so well for Shaw in the past, to timely impact statements, close relationships with the Circuit Attorney’s office, and victim support.  You can read about it, here.

What’s really cool is how Mike has decided to take this model to every neighborhood organization that will have him.  And, we took him up on it.  We’ve even got neighbors committing to leading a couple of components of this safety model.

For this to work, we need lots of people.  More volunteers means less hours committed for each person involved.  We’ve had someone step up to lead the mobile patrol aspect, and will need people to help in that area.  We need good writers who can draft impact statements, which help us secure Neighborhood Orders of Protection.

And, while we’ve had someone step up to lead in the victim support area, we’ll need people to help (men reach out to men, and women reach out to women).  Mike shared a story that started out horribly for one young couple, but ended well – thanks to the immediate contact of compassionate neighbors, who offered assistance and pointed them toward counseling resources, provided by the state to help crime victims cope.  They stayed put because neighbors reached out, instead of shrugging off the incident by accepting it as the reality of life in the city – an attitude I’ve run into more times than I care to count.  Crime happens everywhere, sure enough, but does that make it right?

The real question is, do we want to settle?  Sure, crime is down 11% year-to-date, but it’s still high, the economy still stinks, and Spring is here (despite the recent freaky weather).  Spikes are inevitable.  That doesn’t mean they need to be acceptable.  And, it doesn’t mean the current level needs to be our norm. 

See, even when this succeeds, wouldn’t it be great to know we’ll have a team of neighbors reaching out to neighbors, making sure our residents are cared for?  Isn’t all of this really supposed to be about building community?  That only happens when we band together for a common cause worth fighting.  Wouldn’t you say that safety on every block is one of those causes?

If you have reservations, or if you’ve been around long enough that the memories of your past efforts wear you out, this isn’t for you.  We appreciate your past service.  You’re more than welcome to step back in the game, if you wish.  We could certainly use your experience.

I’m calling out us newer residents (myself included).  Our neighborhood is safer because people before us sacrificed time and energy.  But, neighborhoods don’t stay safe through inertia.

One of Mike’s favorite sayings is the paraphrase of a familiar quote with disputed origins, though many have attributed it to conservative philosopher Edmond Burke:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Let’s do something.

Contact the SNIA office at 314-771-3101, e-mail shawneighborhood at sbcglobal dot net, or direct message our Twitter feed at @Shaw_STL


  1. Monte Abbott April 10, 2011 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Interesting ideas Eric. I would be willing to help with the impact statements. I love to write and I’m pretty good at organizing ideas into coherent forms. My usual writing involves writing college classroom lectures and research documents. If you want to see writing samples email me. I once witnessed a terrible drowning and later blogged about it. The lawyers for the victims’ families later told me that the clarity and detail of my writing helped them sort out and organize all the evidence and helped the families get legal recompense. Anyway, I’d love to help.

    • ericvineyard April 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      That would be great, Monte. I’m e-mailing you a few details.

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