Saturday, December 13, 2008

Perception is everything! Crime does not exist in Baltimore!

I know, I know, that's a strange headline, isn't it. Well, you would think that that headline is true: that Commish of P0-leece Bealefeld has won the battle against crime and thievery. Why? Well, this week's Messenger newspaper, covering the neighborhoods of North Baltimore, reports on some crimes occurring in less than one week in the area (but don't believe for a minute that this is a comprehensive list). 

There are FOUR instances of purses, cash and jewelry taken from cars, in widely separated areas of the Northern District. Plus a purse containing wallet, cell phone, credit cards, and cash taken from an unlocked garage. Plus 3 other incidents in which cell phones, GPS devices, and Ipod were taken from cars. Obviously, people believe the city has little crime, nothing to worry about, and all those headlines and about a crime wave don't apply! Hurray! Perception is everything! People must really BELIEVE, otherwise they would be more worried about their stuff.

SECURITY TIP OF THE DAY: One cannot leave anything of value in your car, if it's visible. And it doesn't help to put your purse under your seat or in your trunk AFTER you arrive at your destination. One should put it in your trunk before leaving for your destination. Dirtball waits and watches; he knows where lots of cars are and where people are tending events or going shopping. He has the area under surveillance. Purses under the seat are a common practice. Dirtball knows and waits. But he really appreciates thoughtfulness (thoughtlessness?) this time of year. His little ones need presents too. Gym bags, dirty, wet stuff notwithstanding, are also much taken along with laptops and briefcases. If you leave it, he's coming to get it.


helix said...

Perception really is everything, buz. The thing is, perception often has no relationship to reality.

This is especially true with crime. When people judge a particular neighborhood as being "safe" or "unsafe", they are using their little "spidey-sense" perception. Some might call it street smarts, but in reality it is often not much more than an assessment of street-level orderliness and a rough racial headcount. Does it work? To some extent, maybe, but only a broad statistical sense. That kind of thinking might guard against impulsive random youth, for example, but doesn't protect one from focused predators who are scoping easy and unsuspecting targets.

I always cringe when people on the internet banter about how the media does or does not describe the race of a prep in an incident. It's as if these people must have constant confirmation of their prejudices at all times in order to be happy. I think these folks are setting themselves up to be broadsided by a "white" male (or female!) criminal at some point in the future, when their "spidey sense" is NOT tingling.

buzoncrime said...

helix---I guess I was kind of making your point a bit when I posted my sarcastic little headline. People felt the neighborhood they were in was safe enough to leave their purse in their cars: v.i.z.: Mt. Washington Village (purse with cash and jewelry); Evergreen (purse and cash) [close to MJB's palatial residence]; and the Orchards (purse, cash, wallet, ID, etc); even the 600 of E. 33rd Street (cash, cellphone, and purse) stolen--most likely the Giant parking lot.

I think i see what you're saying, but I believe that there really are relatively "safe" neighborhoods in Baltimore, and there are unsafe ones--though the potential for crime is generally everywhere. There are lots of places in Baltimore that I would not go, even in daylight, unless: I was wearing a police uniform, with my gun, and had my police radio. Wish it wasn't true, but there it is.

And perception is a big aspect of the theory of "Broken Windows": if the street doesn't look orderly, it probably isn't, and probably isn't safe, either. I don't know if I subscribe 100% to the theory, but it goes a long way to explaining the comfort levels of people living there, and the comfort level of criminals to operate there. Now, it does not hold true 100%, particularly in a high-crime city like Baltimore: some criminals forage and scout out victims "where the money is". However, things are much, much worse in many neighborhoods where the perception does, in fact, have a relationship to reality.
And you're right, using race as a measure of community safety doesn't work very much; plenty of African-Americans are extremely religious and law-abiding; and plenty of whites are dirtballs.

The reason some media outlets don't use race in their stories is to try to break down this stereotype in which seeing the race of the suspect(s) constantly mentioned only reinforces the stereotype and "profiles".