Tonight I went to a meeting. My Municipal Utility District board was having a meeting to discuss security in the four neighborhoods that reside within its boundaries.
I know… why would an infrastructure entity be concerning itself with providing security for boundaries within its district. I have no idea but apparently they have the ability to do this. But the meeting is important. Apparently crime has gone up in this small area. According to a report one of the residents of my neighborhood had posted to our website, the number of calls placed to the Sheriff’s Office has doubled in the past year compared to the previous year; 1488 calls up from 690, ranging from suspicious vehicles and noise complaints all the way to domestic violence and burglaries.
So about 100 concerned residents of the approximately 1500 households within this (oh i don’t know) 1.75 square mile area crammed as tightly as they could into a room in my subdivision’s clubhouse and spoke their minds. Seemed like the members of the board were honestly trying to get an idea of what the residents of the area (an area of which they are residents, too) thought about this issue. They also sent out a poll in our water bill for residents to mail back with their payment. Apparently only about 100 people responded.
The board had their lawyer on hand, which was a good thing because he kept the meeting from going astray and focused on the issue at hand which was basically: do we want the M.U.D. board to hire security to patrol the four subdivisions.
We were given an idea of the cost and a few ways this might happen.
And here is where it gets… political. I guess when money or cost is involved things will get political.
The board said it would cost each household about $5.50 or so per month. In return we would get one officer patrolling our streets 24 hours a day (three officers doing eight hour shifts).
Unfortunately it wasn’t that cut and dry. There were a lot of questions people had and many were pretty passionate about what they thought was the right or wrong thing to do and why.
And as I stood there shoulder to shoulder with fellow residents of my neighborhood it was like viewing a microcosm of the nation. One guy had been out of work for months, ex-military and said his budget was so tight, five dollars was enough to make him say he would rather patrol the streets himself with his rifle in tow. As you might imagine, a few residents had a problem with this approach.
Another resident said, “you can’t put a price on the safety and security of your children.” She said she’d had her house shot… Yes, shot and had her son been standing while in the restroom instead of sitting, he would have been hit.
Another woman was a school bus driver, single mother of two and was barely making ends meet. “I’m a single mom, have my two young daughters, a dog and my gun. I don’t want to pay for a cop to roll by my house when I know it won’t do any good.”
One woman who spoke as best she could through her heavy Spanish accent talked about what we all want, which is to feel safe in our neighborhood and homes. She also said on her street probably 70 percent of the residents only speak Spanish (pretty sure she lives on my street) and we should have at least one Spanish speaking officer. Wow… that led to some knee jerk comments some out loud about how that would cost more to “LEARN ENGLISH!” to whispers under-breath that I couldn’t quite make out. Made me uneasy though.
There were people who had lived in the neighborhood almost 20 years, some only a couple of years. There were black, brown,white… professionals, laborers, the unemployed and underemployed.
And as the stories unfolded from all those people who were there, I could only imagine what the folks on that board must be thinking. I mean, regardless of what the residents say, they can approve the five dollar water bill hike to provide for a few cops to patrol our neighborhood or not. They are elected officials and can do so.
But whatever they decide, it will impact lives.
Incredible. Those five people will affect the lives of those 1,500 households whichever way they decide.