It's unity that makes a safe community

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on shares her thoughts on neigh­bor­hood safety.

Fol­low­ing na­tion­al events that threaten our abil­ity to feel se­cure even sit­ting down to a movie, it might be dif­fi­cult to leave the house each day without feel­ing ex­tremely vul­ner­able.

Two emails reached the Star in­box last week that demon­strate just how vul­ner­able each of us is. Thomas Sherid­an of AFI Flowers in Port Rich­mond said in his mes­sage that the shop had been burg­lar­ized early Ju­ly, only two months after be­ing robbed for the first time. The shop has since in­stalled se­cur­ity cam­er­as.

Star also re­ceived an email re­gard­ing a post on The Port Rich­mond Town Watch’s Face­book page. It re­por­ted that com­munity seni­ors had been tar­gets of re­cent thefts — al­legedly, a nicely-dressed blonde wo­man driv­ing a sil­ver car will knock on doors to ask res­id­ents if she can use the bath­room. While in the house, she steals whatever she sees.

That post en­cour­aged res­id­ents to re­port sus­pi­cious activ­ity to an an­onym­ous ti­p­line at 215-685-3281.

Those in­cid­ents are only two of many that oc­cur every day throughout Phil­adelphia. They aren’t among the even more hein­ous — as­saults, mug­gings, murders.

Some say the world has gone to the dogs.

These crimes are ter­ri­fy­ing. Each act of crime chips away at the sense of se­cur­ity that good, hard­work­ing people strive to es­tab­lish for them­selves and for their chil­dren. Even more ter­ri­fy­ing is the no­tion that many people live with no sense of se­cur­ity; some in the city are simply de­sens­it­ized to crimes that hap­pen around them each day.

In the face of these truths, the hope lies in the good people in your com­munit­ies.

Dur­ing in­ter­views for last week’s “Best of the River Wards” is­sue, I heard the fol­low­ing state­ments from win­ners:

“Here, every­one has your back.”

“They sup­port us, we sup­port them.”

“We all look out for each oth­er.”

Look­ing out for your neigh­bor and keep­ing an eye on the streets will not ne­ces­sar­ily stop a late-night burg­lar or a ma­ni­ac with a gun.

But that ef­fort is tre­mend­ously im­port­ant. In all too many cit­ies, an­onym­ity is a way of life — neigh­bors don’t know or say hello to one an­oth­er, and the only safe­guard on which res­id­ents rely is the dead­bolt they shut across their doors each night.

The people try­ing to make this world worse will al­ways be res­ol­ute. That’s dis­com­fort­ing. But at least a few in Phil­adelphia be­lieve that com­munity safety is every­one’s re­spons­ib­il­ity. That’s com­fort­ing.

Just last night, in fact, the city cel­eb­rated Na­tion­al Night Out, a na­tion­wide vi­gil that, ac­cord­ing to its web­site, seeks to “send a mes­sage to crim­in­als let­ting them know that neigh­bor­hoods are or­gan­ized and fight­ing back.”

That type of think­ing is as cru­cial now as it’s al­ways been.

It might be the only way to keep our world from those dogs.

Man­aging ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­

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