Keeping the Ingleside Safe?

Posted on April 19, 2010

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Map of Neighborhood Watch Groups in the OMI + Excelsior

Safety is a prevailing issue in most neighborhoods. Despite how crime has dipped during the recession, that doesn’t mean people are feel safe in their neighborhoods. SF Safe, a non profit organization, is trying to change how people view their neighborhoods.

‘Most people don’t know their neighbors,’ SF Safe Executive Director Cindy Brandon said.

Brandon hoped that by creating Neighborhood Watch groups that people will begin to not only look out for each other, but create community.

According to SF Safe’s map of neighborhood watch groups (shown above), there are 19 groups in the Ingleside, including Merced heights and Oceanview. I noticed, however, that a majority of these groups are in the Sunnyside and Ingleside Terraces area (places not known for crime to my knowledge). However, places like Oceanview and Excelsior, don’t seem to have many, although crime rates are higher in those areas.

What gives?

Urban areas throughout the country tend to have one basic aspect: community. Although neighborhoods like the Sunset and Richmond have high rates of college graduates and income, most people tend to keep to themselves and not talk to their neighbors. This is not the case in places like Oceanview, where people are on the street talking and enjoying community. With this, however, I think comes a question of ethics. How do you tell the police about an illegal act when a cohort of yours commits it? Furthermore, how do you rely on a city service that historically seems to abuse you (at least in the Black and Latino context)?

While I admire and respect an agency like SF Safe for its acts, the cultural and economic differences, I think, create a barrier for this kind of methodology in an area like Ingleside, Oceanview or Excelsior. And in fact, when the affluent neighborhoods around you seem to have more neighborhood watch groups, it begs the question:

Are they just making connections in case of an emergency (fire, earthquake, etc.) or are they afraid of the people around them?

Luckily, I am writing a story about this topic soon. Stay tuned!

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Posted in: Editorial