Saturday, March 10, 2007

The 2nd Guardian Angels Meeting

So, I decided to wake up early and go to the Guardian Angels meeting at United Neighbors today. The full parking lot itself sends a pretty strong message to the Chief about Davenport residents' opinion of city safety.I've previously stated that I disagree with the philosophy of this group, but I still wanted to hear what they had to say, and also see the local reaction. I would guess that, as usual, I was the only one with an opposing viewpoint to show up and get the other side's views. Aldermen Lynn, Ambrose, and Meyer were in attendance, and Cruiser said that the Mayor attended the earlier meeting.

Mr. Sliwa is quite a public speaker, and he has a very interesting personal background, so he definitely was able to keep the people's attention for nearly 2 hours. He did seem to use a lot of cliches, rhyming phrases and slang, but I suppose that's just his speaking style. At times the meeting had a religious atmosphere, with Sliwa "preaching" and people in the crowd affirming him with the occasional, "that's right," and such.
It was fantastic to me to see such enthusiasm for fighting back against crime in Davenport, but I still can't agree with the methods of this group. If they were simply a national and enthusiastic neighborhood watch group that conducts patrols with radios, cameras, etc, I'd have signed up myself.

Unfortunately, their policy of "physical intervention" is a recipe for disaster. Mr. Sliwa uses the most extreme example, a woman being raped, as explanation of why this is the right thing to do. Of course you should intervene in that case, but the other example he gave was more interesting. He talked about 2 people fighting outside of a bar, and said that the GAs would break up the fight and send them each on their way. This is the kind of thing where you're asking to be stabbed or shot. Instead of a 2 person fight you end up with a brawl. Also, the idea that the mere presence of red-bereted citizens will prevent violent gang crimes seems hard to believe. These folks have shown willingness to pull guns on and fire at armed police officers, so why would the worry at all about unarmed citizens? Mr. Sliwa admitted that 6 GAs have been killed in the line of duty, and I think that's a real possibility here as well. He also didn't address the cell phone aspect, where dozens if not hundreds of people can show up in minutes ready to fight.

I also have some concerns over the fact that many of the Guardian Angel members seem to be wannabe cops. One of the GAs from out of town at the meeting was wearing swat-style cargo pants, and a police belt with a flashlight, handcuffs, and other things on it. I was interested to see if he had Mace and/or an extendable baton, but I didn't get a good enough look. The fact that he'd wear this to a citizen meeting makes me think he likes the outfit a little too much. I was involved with the Davenport Police Explorers back in high school, and there were members of that who were in it for the "power," or uniform, as opposed to helping out the community. If I had to guess, I'd bet those are the kind of people Bladel is worried about.

So, what to do...
I believe the answer lies with the existing DPD VIPS program. If I recall, they even wear similar red jackets. If we could get this much citizen excitement about that program, I feel it could make just as big of a difference at the Guardian Angels. Unfortunately, the VIPS program is currently filled with all, or nearly all, retired senior citizen-types. We need the full spectrum of the community participating in this program. The VIPS also carry police radios, save officers time usually spent doing things that don't require a sworn officer, and do things like patrol the downtown. They've been supported and working closely with the DPD for over a year, and I think they could make a real difference, with more members and more publicity.

Its probably too late for Bladel to propose that though, and judging by the enthusiastic response, I suspect we'll be seeing Guardian Angels patrolling Davenport by summer.


The Colonel said...

It's just hard to think, if we can't protect an off duty police officer at Wendy's, how the hell are we going to protect a "want to be do-good-er".

The problem with society, is the risk of involvement is greater then the risk of helping. So maybe we get 10-25 citizens to walk a few blocks. What is the end result?

It’s time to stop screwing around, and place the blame and ultimate responsibility on the parent(s), grandparent(s) or courts.

Our cop’s spend the day playing caught and then get released! Society turns a blind eye to the dilemma of single parents, and our faith based communities spend more time preaching and less time working.

Buy all the red hats you want. It won’t change much. At least, in my narrow, back ass view point.


Anonymous said...

Funding may be more difficult than presented by the GA. Bigger companies are asked to support a broad range of community activities. They need to know that they are contributing to community wide efforts that benefit the entire QC area. They need to know that there is no duplication of services provided.

How much of the dollars raised stay in the QC? What does it cost to be affilitated with the national GA group? Be prepared to answer the questions.

Anonymous said...

It very obvious that QCI and Col do not live in the area of town that need this kind of activity. If you don't live there , shut up. You aren't offering anything to help. In fact, COL is the one that thinks that low income housing helps neighborhoods.

And QCI, you aren't effected by this crime like the rest of us who actually live IN the neighborhoods and deal with the problems and the unresponsive Chief of Police.

Anonymous said...

12:08's not my neighborhood and I should shut-up? How does that help to build support for your neighborhood? How does that help to build a donor base to support the activities of the GA to improve your neighborhood? Why isn't an open dialogue and an exchange of ideas a good thing?

You are right, it is your neighborhood, why should I help you?

Anonymous said...

To 12:08
Tes, it's your neighborhood and MY TAX DOLLAR that pays to patrol it. I'm sick and tired of paying because you guys can't get along.
Let's face it, most "crime " in this town is done to people who know each other. Listen to the police scanner, domestic abuse, gangs shooting gangs, drug deals gone bad, etc.

Anonymous said...

The Real Problem is.....

Chief Bladel only allowing 12 officers out of 150+ to be on the street at any given time. That is why he has lost the support of the police union.

The GAs have not had a single person killed in the line of fire or even seriously hurt for more then a decade! That is because they work with police departments, and have extensive 90 day training including background checks. The wannabe cops that QCI is worried about won't make it through. They are an incredible success in all of the 87 Cities they are in. Why should Davenport be any different? Bring in the GAs and lets get going. Lets show Bladel what effective enforcement is all about.

QuadCityImages said...

1:44, First of all, the 12 officer thing is BS, just like the "5-10 minute response time" for serious crimes that Mr. Sliwa mentioned in his talk. Maybe during certain daytime shifts there are only 12, but at night you've got Tactical Operations Bureau (if they're still calling it that) guys out there. The Northpark riot response time? 1 minute. Most downtown incidents have a response time of under 2 minutes. Our cops do a great job of getting to the serious stuff right away, at a cost of leaving noise complaints and parking problems on a very long list of things to get to.

12:08, just doesn't know what he's talking about. If he thinks that when I walk places from 5th and Iowa I'm not "in the neighborhood" I don't think he has much credibility in other areas. Some people just love to attack me on every post.

10:36, at the meeting they said that local money stays local, and that there's no funds going from local groups to the headquarters. I would assume that the national HQ gets "national money" or at least NYC money.

Don't get me wrong here folks, I understand the feelings behind this, and I think a lot of the people who join have their hearts in the right place. I just think there's a better and safer way.

Anonymous said...

If you don't support this and you don't live in the neighborhoods - yes - shut up. I do believe that is what I said.

I am tired of all of you in the safer areas of town trying tell us who live int he areas that used to be safe how to address our issues. I am tired of the solutions being low income housing and I am tired of being told that these criminals have to live somewhere. How about by you?

QuadCityImages said...

That kind of attitude is only going to hurt your side, and make you look like a fool.

Curtis Sliwa's EXACT WORDS were that "mind your own business" is the WRONG attitude about crime. Now you're telling people from outside your area that you don't need their cooperation. Completely illogical. We're supposed to all be working together here, and you are being a negative exclusionist.

Anonymous said...

I attended the AM meeting and have done reading on my own. No, haven't picked up a phone yet to talk to other Police Chiefs or as importantly other citizens in the crime ridden neighborhoods of other towns. But so far, despite a few reservations, I would support a Davenport chapter of the GA's. And I ask those outside my neighbor to support itand that means Chief Bladel too. I believe we must continue to work the long-term solutions (employment, education and housing) but those are LONG-TERM solutions. We have to be very honest and admit that the long-term stuff will take even longer unless we can make people feel safer right now. People will give up on the really hard stuff if day-to-day we don't feel safe always looking over our shoulders and planning what route not to take. Our community must get control of itself then work on the long term preventative challenges. If the GA's establish here and don't work out we'll know it and they can be disbanded.

cruiser said...

As someone who was the first volunteer to sign up, I would like to answer a few of these questions. Yes, all the money raised here, stays here. If more of you went to the meeting; Mr. Sliwa doesn't put the blame on the Police, City Council, or society in general; he blames the parents or parent. The Angels have many school, church, and community programs to help deal with problem youths. Mr. Sliwa also said we have to think of the whole Quad Cities because once the Angels get started here, crime will move. He envisions a Quad Cities Guardian Angels. The Angels also believe in the right to sit at home and bitch, but want to be pro-active. I'm sure QCI remembers the 'improve, don't move' reference. To many of us are moving out of house we like because of problems we don't know how to deal with. So the volunteers are signed up, the Guardian Angels have committed to coming to Davenport, and in July those of us who pass all the tests will be on patrol. So regardless of how you feel, the Angels will be based in Davenport. All we is Angel volunteers ask is that you take a wait and see attitude. We have to pass background checks, training and CPR certification and other tests before we will be Angels. Some of us won't make it, but the ones that do will be an asset to our community.

Anonymous said...

QCI, I had a patrol officer tell me HIMSELF that there were only a limited amount of officers out on a given shift when I compained about them not showing up until four hours after I had reported a drug deal going on in front of my business. Only he told me there were only seven patrol CARS out on a given shift. I guess, if there were two cops per car that would be 14 officers...but he was alone. And the 2 minute response time?! How many times have YOU had to call the police to report a violent crime? It took them over two hours to respond to me reporting a woman being being beaten up in front of my house. I had to intervene and run the guy off, because I thought he was going to really hurt her. The guy tried to get his hands on me, but I'm tougher than most women and he took off. Two hours later the police showed up and basically threw up their hands and said it was over and there was nothing they could do about it, even though they were given the guy's name and where he lived. You love your cops all you want, QCI. They haven't done squat for me when I've needed them.