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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just another statistic...

It has been just over a month (11/27) since I became a statistic. After going to the Know Theatre for a review of Sideways Stories from Wayside School I was walking back towards Fountain Square when my friend and I were robbed at gunpoint at the intersection of Vine and Court streets (map).

No one was hurt, although material possessions were taken along with our nerves that night. It was not so much the fear, but the state of shock took over our minds. There were lots of people around – about a half dozen at the bus stop a half block away, another dozen or so hanging outside of Hamburger Mary’s, cars moving along on Central Parkway, and we were right on Vine Street. We could not believe what was happening until it was all over.

The encouraging part was that someone at the bus stop called the police who responded within a few short minutes. Another gentleman expressed his condolences as we continued to make our way back into the Central Business District, but in the end, we have been added to the spreadsheets as victims of crime.

Looking back on things it appeared as though the individual who approached us had no intention on using the Western-style handgun of his that he was holding palm up, and it also appeared that it was all made possible by a dark Court Street area where he, and an accomplice, were able to hide. Since that time Court Street has seen additional lighting added to it in a move that I find non-coincidental.

Both my friend and I are avid city supporters and are not scared away easily. The next day I walked around historic Over-the-Rhine taking photographs of new development projects and architectural features throughout the beautiful neighborhood. But with that said, the incident gave me a reminder that we must always be aware of our surroundings no matter how comfortable we might be.

Additionally, as urban-advocates we must realize that crime, and the perception of it, must be addressed in a prioritized way that is thought out and well managed. Would surveillance cameras prevented this incident from occurring, or would it have just happened somewhere else where it was dark and without a camera? Would additional lighting have changed the situation? More police? More jail beds?

These are all complex issues that are very worth discussion as we continue to move forward with the redevelopment of our urban communities. We need a smart city in order to thrive in the future, and overlooking how to effectively manage crime would be a major mistake.


Jason said...

That really sucks. I live right next door on West Court St, and the amount of crime in my immediate area is disturbing.

Honestly, I think you can point the finger squarely at the West Court Deli as the big draw for less than honest types in that area of downtown. People who live nowhere near the CBD stop there as a source for liquor, and often hang around hassling others in the neighborhood, hanging out in the nearby alleys, drinking, and otherwise breaking the law.

The housing above and next to the Deli are depressed for the same reason, and the rumor is many of those units are occupied by drug abusers. Cincinnati Police and Fire Department vehicles are constantly on the street dealing with various offenses and injuries. You don't have to look further than 8th and Elm to see the same phenomenon :

Why does the city continue to let these businesses like West Court Deli keep their licenses when they obviously use a disproportionate amount of the resources to police? This border area between the CBD and the Gateway Quarter have a tremendous amount of potential, with plentiful parking and retail space available in the Court Street Marketplace, but the status quo is going to get us nowhere.

Jason said...

Sorry to hear about your misfortune. I walk that route frequently, day and night, both by myself and with my wife and others and it definitely hits home to hear of something like that happening there.
In answer to your questions: "Would surveillance cameras prevented this incident from occurring, or would it have just happened somewhere else where it was dark and without a camera? Would additional lighting have changed the situation? More police? More jail beds?"

In my opinion, the only thing that is proven to truly reduce crime is repopulating the streets with people, residents. You can have all the surv. cameras, police, and lights money can buy, but without hundreds of pairs of eyes peering onto the street where they live and work and care about, criminals can continue to get away with it. I believe that's precisely what makes NYC such a safe place. There's always hundreds of people out on the streets, day and night, unknowingly keeping an eye on their neighborhoods and homes. If someone tries to pull something stupid, you can rest assured that someone saw it happen and can likely help the police.
Just throwing out my two cents. Most of that is based on not only personal observations, but also from reading "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs. Other thoughts?

Randy Simes said...


I tend to agree with you that one of the ways to go about preventing these crimes of opportunity is by having more people out and about making it an uncomfortable endeavor for the criminal. The young man who robbed us appeared to be just as nervous as we were, but he had the support of another guy across the street and a gun to guide him through the process.

I also think that more programs are needed to help keep people from entering lives of crime. This was a young individual (appeared to be younger than myself, 24) and will almost certainly live a life of crime. If we can keep these young people out of this pattern then we will improve the safety of our streets and our quality of life.

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