Perhaps they’ll break in and set up shop for drug deals and prostitution … or squatters could move into it, light a fire in the fireplace to keep warm only to burn the entire house to the ground, taking the adjacent houses along with it. Once done with the house across the street, the vandals will need to find another house, perhaps yours since no one seems to care or call the police on that street. Or consider the sidewalks, alleys and yards in your neighborhood. Someone discards a candy wrapper or a 40 ounce from a local carryout. Soon more litter and bottles begin to collect. According to Wikipedia, “the broken windows theory” was first introduced by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an article entitled “Broken Windows” which appeared in the March 1982 edition of the Atlantic Monthly. The contents of the book are still relevant today, 32 years later. Consider a building with a broken window; if it’s not repaired, suddenly another broken window appears on the same structure, then another, so on and so forth, as vandals continue to see how far they can push the envelope without getting caught. Before you know it, people are leaving bags and litter from fast food restaurants all over the place, followed by trash bags, tons of construction waste, discarded furniture, and old tires! People looking for a good place to deal dope or sell sex see such an area as they drive through and it screams “ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET”! “Come set up shop here—no one cares and no one is going to call the City or the Police on you.”
A successful strategy, per the authors of the book, is to fix problems when they are still small before they escalate into something uncontrollable, causing residents to move out of the neighborhood. Fix the broken window within a day, a week at the most. Pick up the litter on a daily basis and you will find the amount of it will go down dramatically. If your neighbor is elderly or not well off, offer to help them replace the window or take care of their yard. When you see people dumping tires and the like in alleys and yards or large items of furniture, call 614-645-3111 … they will come and take them away. When you see vandalism taking place call 911! If a property is vacant and you notice broken out windows, report it by calling 614-645-3111. If a street light has burned out on your street or in the alley, then please report it by calling 614-645-3111, otherwise it’s not going to get fixed and the darkness will invite even more illicit activity.
If you have neighbors that seem to have to live their lives with the constant accompaniment of a soundtrack by blaring their stereo so loud that your windows rattle, then please, call the police at 614-645-4545. If people are wandering in and out of properties they don’t live in, or are doing “things” in the yard or alley that they shouldn’t be doing in public, then please, call the police at 614-645-4545. If you know criminal activity is taking place on your street or alley such as drug dealing or prostitution, then report it by calling 614-645-3111 and the police at 614-645-4545, and if you’re not happy with the response you are getting locally, then call the DEA directly at 202-307-1000. YOU CAN REMAIN ANONYMOUS! Then, be sure you follow up if you don’t see results! Raise your expectations and the you will see the level of City services dramatically increase. If you have low expectations of your own efforts, the neighborhood, and of the City, then that is the kind of neighborhood you are going to have: one of low expectations and full of criminal activity. As a resident, you are a stakeholder and as a stakeholder should never be afraid to raise the bar of expectations.
But what about the time honored tradition still held by too many of our residents on the hill of not making waves and minding ones own business? WELL, you are minding your own business, the neighborhood in which you live and raise your children in is YOUR BUSINESS and you have a right to say what will or will not go on there because criminal activity and vandalism affect all of us, even if it might be way down at the other end of the block or on the other side of the alley. Sit down and draw a map of your street, just the block you live on will do, unless you’re close to the end of it, then do half yours and half the next one down from you. Draw in the houses and put the house numbers on them. Then add the next street over from you on both sides as well, the same block (s), but map out the houses on the sides of those streets that are closest to you as well and write in their house numbers. Keep a copy of this handy for whenever you might need it. If something happens or is going on that needs called in to the police, you will have all the information you need at your fingertips: the street and the house number without having to even go outside your front door to get them. Call in the crime and remain anonymous … the police will come and a report of the incident will have be made. They use crime statistics to assign officers, etc., so if it isn’t reported, to them it didn’t happen. ALSO, keep aware of the crime going on in your neighborhood by going online to www.communitycrimemap.com. Type in your address or even just “Highland West Columbus Ohio” and you will be able to see all that has been reported. The map updates daily. And don’t forget to JOIN your local block watch and civic association … fighting and driving crime out of areas are what these community institutions are in the business of doing and you can surround yourself with others who also want to make the community a better place, allowing you to network as you create new friendships with those you live around. If you want don’t currently have one and want to start a block watch the Highland West Civic Association will help you. If one already exists then the association can connect you. Creating relationships between neighbors takes away the foothold of anonymity that provides another major gateway of crime into any neighborhood: neighbors who know and talk to each other! What a concept! No, you don’t have to get along with them, just be willing to work together for the common good. (This isn’t junior high!) All of us have an enormous amount of power to create real and lasting change in our community. Don’t let others involved in criminal activity scare you into giving that power away. Take your power back and use it to create a clean, safe, and decent neighborhood for yourselves and all those you love… and it all begins with fixing those broken windows and picking up litter! (Ricardo Mendez/Geoffrey Phillips—Co-contributors)
To become involved in any of our Highland West Neighborhood Watch Groups, or to submit crime tips for the police, please confidentially email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Highland West Civic Association 2018
Please note that our district map is by no means exhaustive. As more people to the south near Sullivant come forward with an interest we will be happy to get them started. There really are no boundaries with crime.
Highland West: The Broken Windows Theory and what YOU can DO!
Highland West Neighborhood Watch Districts