EDITORIAL: It’s time to take initiative

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 27, 2002

No one has any illusions about it – St. John the Baptist Parish public housing, especially in Reserve, is in a mess. Much of the problem can be laid to years of neglect, and much more to the onslaught of drug-related crime, including crimes of violence.

Some people are waiting for the housing authority or the sheriff’s office to come in and fix everything. However, unless one vital component of that formula is added, any efforts by those agencies is doomed to failure.

It is, of course, the residents there, who must make that difference. They have to get up, stand up, shake off the pessimism and declare, as in the movie, “Network,” the following: “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

This is no way for human beings to live, living in daily fear for their lives. They need to get the bad seed out, like disposing of weeds from a garden. They need to cooperate with police in identifying the criminals – give information and stand up in court. The sheriff’s office needs to make a greater presence, daily and personal, in public housing. Cities around the country have community policing programs, where officers return to walking a beat, making daily contact with the people.

The people can cooperate in this as well, by opening their homes to the sheriff’s office, offering not only information but also friendship.

There was a time when young children were taught that a police officer was their friend, someone to reliably turn to in times of trouble or need. The police are still here, still offering that hand of friendship.

It’s time to join hands in a partnership against crime, to teach the children not to fear the police but to trust and work with them. This is a time to look within ourselves and ask what can we do to make living conditions better. To take pride in themselves and in their homes.

We all need to declare total war on these neighborhood terrorists.