When to Call the Cops on your Neighbors

A controversially titled blog, Gentrifying Richmond: Transitional Neighborhood Lowdown, posted an entry in December giving suggestions on when/if a neighbor should call the police on another neighbor. However, now that the sun is starting to warm things up, people are coming out of their homes and laying eyes on each other in the full light of day, like it or not. And nocturnal party behavior has begun to spill out into the public sphere of porches, yards, and streets sometimes into the wee hours, like it or not. If ever there was an occasion to talk about the etiquette surrounding neighborhood conflict resolution, this is as good a time as any.

“The “rule” my husband and I have set for ourselves is that we will not call the po po on our neighbors (our street only) unless the situation REALLY warrants doing so.”

If you’ve ever peered out the window with the phone in your hand, you’ll know what they’re talking about. Or, maybe you’ve seen your neighbors peering at you from behind their curtains, because they think you look sketchy. Aside from the previously mentioned gentrification blogger’s rule of thumb about not calling the police (and tongue-in-cheek comments lampooning the vernacular of her neighbors), she goes on to prescribe several lessons for anyone hoping to reform their neighborhood (ostensibly in an upscale direction). Is this concept exciting? Offensive? Take a peek and chime in here or there with your reaction. The blogger basically outlines their desire to live in peace with their neighborhood, and acknowledges the distrust that results from most calls to police. Also, there is the issue of disproportionate reactions from police and repercussions from the criminal justice system, both treatments generally reserved for lower income people of color. So, it’s probably a good idea to consider your concept of “justice” before dialing 9-1-1.

One lesson from the gentrification blog piece is that there are ways to solve problems that promote cohesion in a community rather than sowing seeds of division and suspicion. With Richmond’s high degree of segregation and history always looming, it’s worthwhile to put energy into finding commonality with your neighbors. However, the blog seems to be written with an ‘us vs them’ attitude, advocating for those who move into a neighborhood with the goal of changing it. You might not like this idea or you might wholeheartedly identify with the plight. Regardless, communities are always changing, no matter where the impetus is coming from. Byrd Park is no different.

PS: This story requires you to read the blog that is linked in the first paragraph AND to read the comments that will hopefully unfold here and  include a diversity of perspectives.

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