Avoid Thy Neighbor? [excerpt]

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Occasionally, someone will ask a question about what to do about this or that person walking down the sidewalk. The community officer asks, “Have you ever said hello?” Basic friendliness is such a novel idea. But the officer has tried to emphasize that speaking to people you don’t recognize can deter criminals because it shows your ownership in the neighborhood. “Well, no,” comes the response, “I just didn’t think he belonged here.”

While the community officer always encourages the neighbors to call him when they have a concern, they sometimes get these calls of “general suspicion” and he has to explain that one needs a substantive reason for asking an officer to make contact with someone.

In a TED Talk, longtime Baltimore police officer Melvin Russell lamented similar experiences:

There is no way in the world that we, as a community, should be calling the police for kids playing ball in the street. No way in the world that we should be calling the police because my neighbor’s music is up too loud, because his dog came over to my yard and did a number two. We have surrendered so much of our responsibility.

In other words, people just avoid each other anymore and don’t have enough of a relationship with their neighbors that they could comfortably go talk to them about a minor problem.

[Read the full article at Baptist News Global]

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