Police Presence in the Hood

By Todd A. Smith

            We constantly hear the grim crime statistics:  High murder rates, drug trafficking, and prostitution are constants in inner city neighborhoods. 

            Many flee to the suburbs just to get away from the dangers that plague ghettoes throughout this country on a daily basis.  Some blame the lack of jobs and quality education for the crime rates in inner city neighborhoods, but there is possibly another reason for the crime disparities in urban versus suburban neighborhoods; the lack of police presence in black and brown neighborhoods.

            In Houston, inner city neighborhoods from Acres Homes to Third Ward feature police stations prominently placed in the heart of the neighborhood.  With a visible police presence, one would think that criminals and potential criminals would shy away from nefarious activities for fear of easily being apprehended by the law.

            However, in neighborhoods like Acres Homes residents often complain about calls to the neighborhood police station being ignored, even when responding to the calls could potentially save lives.

            One resident complained of at least one individual shooting a firearm in a nearby park, calling the authorities multiple times for help, but no police presence ever appeared on the scene.  Another resident called the police to report a neighbor’s house being burglarized but again no officer appeared on the scene despite the police station being located in the same subdivision.

            Often, inner city neighborhoods are stereotyped, and some deservedly so, for being hotbeds for criminals, but the lack of police presence gives these criminals free reign to terrorize the neighborhoods because they know they will not face any repercussions.

            If a criminal knows they can sell drugs, break into houses and they know the police departments will not pursue them, they literally feel that they can get away with murder.  Many officers who are placed in these communities do not come from those communities, do not understand those communities and simply do not care about the people in those communities.

            The police stations are probably there because residents of affluent neighborhoods do not want them in their backyards.  Many minorities living in affluent neighborhoods can attest that if a person of color literally walks down the street in a predominately White neighborhood they often face harassment by police officers.  However, if a person in a poorer section of town is brutally assaulted, a police presence is nonexistent.

            I am not naïve enough to believe that other factors like a lack of jobs and subpar education do not contribute to the high crime rates in many urban neighborhoods, but if there was a greater police presence in these neighborhoods, the crime rates would probably drastically decrease.

            Many people dream of making it big and leaving their inner city past behind.  They seek the same safety and security that people from affluent backgrounds seek when they decide on a neighborhood to live in.  Unfortunately, many will never make the kind of money to buy a house on the hill or the lake and enjoy the serenity that security provides.

            Nevertheless, those same people require and need the same safety and police presence that their more affluent counterparts enjoy and just because they are poor or of color does not mean that they do not deserve the same protection as everyone else.  And if they ever receive that protection, it may finally be “all good in the hood.”


Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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