Friday, January 29, 2010

Crime Wave Hits Close to Home

Setting out for the Shade Tree Commission meeting Wednesday, I took to heart the warnings from police after four armed robberies were committed in a week, all near where I live. I left my messenger bag home and took only what I needed for the meeting, except for my cell phone, which I held in my hand with the police desk number on the screen and my thumb poised to press "call."

Why not 9-1-1? If you call from a cell phone, the first thing you hear is, "What city are you calling from?" The desk will get to to dispatch quicker, in my opinion.

Having moved from the bucolic environs of Long Hill Township to Plainfield 27 years ago, I am well aware of the hazards of city living. As a reporter, I was assigned to many risky locales and I took all possible precautions. Back in the day of calling in from pay phones, I relied on my press ID and an air of bravado to give me a slim margin of safety.

The blocks around Park & Seventh have their good aspects for a dedicated pedestrian - easy access to City Hall, the Plainfield Public Library, Park Hardware, Park Florist, lots of food shops , churches, musical events and more. But it is a city after all, where a crossbody bag is better than a purse and stowing valuables in a travel vest is even better, if you can dodge the fashion police.

Crime is very random. I once lived in an intentional community on West Eighth Street where one of my fellow communards went all the way to Japan and back, only to get mugged in our own driveway. In 18 years at this address, we have had only two bad incidents, although there have been major crimes on our block.

I hope the police can catch the robbers soon. At least they alerted us to the danger. Plainfield crime reports are no longer made public, but I would like to know about neighborhood crime trends. Several block associations have ways to notify members of crime alerts. Block 832 has no neighborhood group.

One thing drivers can do if coming home late is to get a police escort. If you see anything suspicious, drive to the police station and when an officer is available, you will be escorted by a police car until you are safely inside your home. I used to use this option when I was still working as a reporter and coming home at odd hours.

Personal safety requires forethought and alertness. There is no guarantee that you will be spared, but planning ahead and using appropriate caution can help a lot.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

TYOP Alert: [pun intended] Did you mean "International" ? We all "Intend" to live somewhere come to think of it.

GB [up late]

4:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my word the horror what will one do to be safe in Plainfield and with the possibility of Police Layoffs I might just have to move out of Plainfield

5:41 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

To GB: It was an intentional community, meaning the people were not related by blood but shared values and beliefs, as opposed to any old group of roomers. It had to be proven to the city to allow occupancy. It was a great place, with poetry readings, spiritual studies, saying grace at the dinner table, musical events, shared views on food and many other aspects of life. When it broke up, we literally had a ball in the mansion's ballroom. All of us still treasure the experience, I think.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

The sad part is these crimes have BEEN occurring for quite some time. There has been scuttle butt and side conversations amongst the associations and districts for quite some time. Only NOW is the administration even acknowledging anyone has been robbed at gun point or knife point in the city. They also won't mention all the home invasions and burglaries occurring while residents are sleeping in their homes..and it's going on all across the city in different neighborhoods. If only we could be as safe as Mayor Sharon thinks she is with her head firmly planted in the sand....If NONE of us talk about it, none of us have anything to worry about -- according to her logic.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I was a bit worried about you when you missed a day or so of posting. I have my police scanner, so I hear a lot of these things as they happen. I've been taking the bus from the train and just walking a block home after dark from work.

While the bus lets me off at a rather iffy crime corner, I feel generally safe as I know most of the people who hang out there on a casual friendly basis. I know some of them probably aren't angels, but they know me well enough not to bother me, nor let anyone else bother me. I also know many of the people in the homes on the block I have to walk. But I'm leery as there have been shootings, but later than I'd be out there.

My old city in Connecticut was roughly the same. I never feel totally safe and keep aware of my surroundings at night. I feel safest in either the outright country or in Manhattan where there's always people around.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just put my place up for sale hope i can get out in time

2:51 PM  

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