Saturday, February 15, 2003

Ahhh- I finally saw the guy who keeps running past my wondow- he's a whote guy mid to late 20's (but I"m really bad at that) light brown hair and a small beard and moustache. Black and blue checked flannel shirt, grey sweatshirt, blue knit cap with an M on it. baggy jeans (goes without saying) currently has drugs in his underwear. He's been to 30 twice today that I've seen. Sadly, the digital camera is downstairs. I'm sure I'll get him soon enough.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Brief update- I went through the tape from yesterday and found Green Coat at about 12:45 with a whole flock of buyers in the back yard of 30 N. Montford. I am talking about probably 10 buyers, Green Coat and the escort guy (he's the skinny white guy with dark hair, clean shaven). I'm not sure whether the police were around or what happened but at the end of the sale they all headed off towards Fairmount but then turned and hustled off towards N. Bradford. I think it's very interesting that they stay together in a groups the whole time, they arrive together and leave together.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

I've had time to think about what I was feeling last night and I have calmed down a bit. The problem for me, of course, is that Officer Penn works the same hours I do and so, since I'm not home when he would be likely to responde to a call, he isn't ever going to be very useful for me. I have also decided that he will probably end up being able to effect some change in the areas that he thinks are important but that he may never find my alley or corner at the top of his list.
I guess I fell into the same movie star idolization as many of the neighbors at the meeting. I don't think that I am any kind of expert at understanding what the police are really looking for. It seems odd to me that they appear to car only about the dealers and have no interest at all in the users. I had though that users would be a good source of information. I also harbor a huge dislike of peopl who come in form the suburbs to buy and use, who talk about how bad the city is and act like they are on some kind of safari, and then go home as though they are model citizens. I don't like them whether they are using, or dealing, or here to find a prostitute. I also think that they are more likely to respond to the fear of being caught and punished (as long as punishment is something more than just having one's name published in the Guide). Supply and demand would suggest that scasring away a lot of the customers should slow business down a little.

I still take issue with the way he handled my giving him the vials and I will probably mention it to him. I have a few questions for him as well, that I think will be useful for the community to have clarified- things like what his hours are, when he thinks we shoudl be calling him as opposed to calling 911 or 311, what he thinks will happen to the other blocks in the nieghborhood if he manages to get his target block cleaned up, etc. I am very concerned that, after the moving around last week, my block kind of has an opening for a big dealer and I will be very angry if all he manages to do is to move them down here.

In the more mundane aspects of surveillance (yeah, I'll keep going), I moved the camera to try to catch some of the action in the alley. Although 2321 still looks empty, the windows are in an ever changing state of openness, the lights are still on too. I haven't reviewed today's tape yet, I'm hoping to catch some of the traffic in and out of the yards at 28 and 30 even if I can't see what is actually happening there.

So I'll continue to see what I can find out. I am a big believer in the saying "Data is Power"

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

We had our community association meeting this evening. Our Community Relations Officer, Melvin Penn, came by to give the residents some hints on how to provide useful information to the police. He said a lot of good things and has an excellent sounding plan for one of the most problematic blocks in the nieghborhood. I was a bit disappointed though in some of his behavior. First off, I had the 3 vials with me, I had called his number to ask if I could give them to him at the meeting and the Officer (Wright, I think) suggested that I do that but be discreet about it. I had no intention of walking up the street with them in my hand anyway so I put them in an envelope with a card that had the date and location where I found them. During the meeting, Officer Penn yells, "Does someone here have drugs for me or was that just a rumor?" I was taken aback. He didn't know everyone at the meeting and neither did I. I wasn't exctied about being labelled as the person who carries drugs around looking for cops. So I said, as I handed them over "I was told to be a little more subtle about it." I don't think that is the way to win over the trust of the community members at all. Why would anyone feel comfortable calling him now when we don't know whether he might walk up the street and say "Are you the person who called about the crack house?"
He pretty much also told us that he only reads email if he knows who wrote it and complained that someone sent him 17 pages and was all emotional in it and he had to read the whole thing to fidn what he needed to know. Um- well, guess what, honey? we are emotional about it. If we weren't we wouldn't be trying to fix it.
Personally, I also felt like he blew off videotape surveillance. I offered him several hours of footage of one particular dealer and he said "Oh, I already know him." Now, I'm not sure why his polaroids are more powerful than a videotape but who am I to say?

I'm honestly not trying to be down on the police. I just worry when the message is "do it this way or don't bother" that people are not going to bother. I think that the police need to treat anyone giving them any kind of information as a precious commodity, everyone should be encouraged to participate and should be guaranteed that they will be treated with respect and confidentiality. On the flip side, I think we need to stop treating the police like they are doing us a favor when they show up.
Not much to post really- I guess that's good? Mr Coates, who owns 2321 E. Fairmount claims that he got the squatters out. I 'm not sure I believe him but I'm happy either way. Hopefully now the Patterson Park Community Developement Corporation will be able to buy it and at least secure it, if nothing else.
Other good news, 28 and 30 N. Montford were both boarded today so I guess the outstanding work orders at Housing are down to 6999 (they were both on one).Must be quite a relief to their workers.

Today I called 911 on two users behind 28, the distinctive smell of lighter fluid is not very comforting when two houses on your block have already been burned. I also dicovered three orange topped vials in my backyard. Full. Don't get excited, they've been delivered safely to the police. I think they've been there a while, appeared to have been under the snow.

I'm still very frustrated at not being able to get video of those properties though and trying to figure out a way to do it. If I weren't nervous about putting the cam outside it would be a piece of cake but I'm still laying low for a while until I get a feel for what the new regime is about.

If anyone os trying to email me, it will be touch and go- I'm also fighting spammers so my mailbox tends to fill up....

Sunday, February 09, 2003

*sigh* I guess surveillance starts up again tomorrow. I haven't been doing much since the group moved out but, while delivering newsletters, Carol overheard a buyer being directed to the back of 2321 again so there you go. She also overheard comments about a blue cavalier on Patterson Park Ave- not sure if it's the big boss of just a special customer (or maybe an undercover cop?). The windows are now closed in 2321 so someone's been back in.
My neighbor made an interesting comment, he says that this isn't an open air drug market, just kids taking advantage of an opportunity. I guess that the fact that they have the "decency" to go into the alley to do the deals disqualifies it as an open air market? uh huh. Granted, It's not as bad as many places, I have no problem admitting to that. But I think it's like any kind of infection that is only half treated, the tough bugs live through and develop resistence. Right now our corner may indeed not be really hardcore open air trafficking, but how long will it take until suddenly, one day, we wake up and it IS exactly the kind of open air market we are all dreading? Many of the neighbors up a block or two can't see passed their own corners to see how it has spread through our whole little 6 square block neighborhood. This isn't a big area to try to keep clean.
I realized the other day that as much as I'd like to see the users in treatment and on the road to a productive life and the dealers in jail (and somehow made to payback time to the nieghborhoods they've taken advantage of), I think I'd settle for a clear two block radius all around my corner. it's selfish, maybe greedy, and certainly shortsighted. But think of how wonderful it would be if everyone worked just towards a clear two block radius around their own corner. It seems almost like a bite small enough to chew.