Every day I take a morning walk along Biscayne Boulevard in what is now called Miami's "Upper East Side." As I go through my morning constitutional I am gladdened by the signs of gentrification that are showing in my area. I am also regretful that the area is steadily approaching the tipping point that will move the area out of the "up and coming" segment into the "quaint and established" designation. Of course as the down and out move on, a few haven't got the memo that the neighborhood is no longer a "crack friendly" area.
As a happy resident of Miami, I am fully cognizant that the City of Miami Police goal is less about stopping crime, and more about containing it to a few crime ridden areas. The police don't understand why someone would ever live in an area previously known for its hookers, crack addicts and homeless people. To the police, gentrification forces them to do something they're not used to: make a report. When I first moved into the area there were nightly drug deals on my street. I called the police and made a report. (The white guy in me called the city commissioner too). When my street was being used as a truck depot for semis because we paid for street security, I called the police and made a report. When the homeless junkie banged on my door at 3AM asking for money, I called and made report. I encouraged all my neighbors to do the same thing.
Each and every time the police dispatcher, patrolman or other officer tried to discourage me from making a report. These were the questions I would get whenever I called the non-emergency police line:
"Are you sure you want a unit to go there sir?" "What would you like the police to do sir?" at least they said sir. When my husband calls with his Spanish accent, they don't even bother with the "sir" designation. I mean, why do they think I'm calling the police? For my health? No, I'm calling the police because I want these things out of my neighborhood. I don't want to see the filthy crack whore passed out in front of Starbucks. I'm calling because of the passed out Asian (not Haitian, which I repeated, several times, until I gave up and said "Chinese") drunken woman sleeping on the sidewalk, with a pile of beer cans for a pillow. Arrest her for littering!
When three, THREE, hookers were taking shelter from the morning sun under the NET(Neighborhood Enhancement Team) office, I actually went in and complained and they said there was nothing they could do. I mean how ironic is it that prostitutes are turning tricks behind the NET office? The following week I saw hookers hanging out at the bus stop, I approached two, very overweight police officers gossiping. When I complained they asked:
"Where they walking?"
"Yes." I replied.
"Then there's nothing we can do. As long as they're moving we can't arrest them." and they resumed their gossiping and doughnut eating.
Really? Really!?! As long as they're moving?
The last straw came two weeks ago when I was accosted by a drunken drug addict at 9AM in the morning right on Biscayne Blvd.. He followed me for several blocks threatening to hit me, I walked away and called the police. I called 911. They asked me if I was sure I wanted an officer to come out to make a report. Jesus, I thought, of course I do, did I just call 911 because I need a drama fix? Why not just lie and say, "they're on their way" and never show up? At least I can get the illusion that they're working.
The officer showed 30 minutes later, I told him the story. "Are you sure you want to make a report?" was his reply. "Because there's nothing we can do, he's gone." Duh, I thought.
The police officer gave me this unsolicited advice: "Next time that happens to you, sir, you should hit him first and that will scare the criminals off."
Yeah, and I'm sure you'd be happy to take that report.