Community should act, fairly and quickly, after business vandalized – Las Cruces Sun-News

The best way to get rid of vermin besides killing everything else is to overwhelm it with a tactic that forces it to find other places to exist. If one has an infestation of mice, they get a cat. Not some Melba Milk Toast Fluffy (the social worker), but one that eats mice. The mere increase of around-the-clock police presence actually out on patrol will accomplish this. 911 is commonly known as a reactive format (after the fact), not a proactive one (before the fact).
We do not need more arrests that the system just lets back out. Just the presence of more officers in blue will cause many of the criminals to move on because their activities become less convenient as they found in NYC. As far as the Broken Window Policy efforts of NYC maybe we might think about cleaning out the falling down ghetto housing in what is deemed “The Historical District”? I mean, they are a pretty sad statement for history.
Gentrification does this well but that will require quality economic development so we attract a more affluent population and help cause our University graduates to stick around. Maybe a pink tent-style holding facility like Maricopa in AZ had might help on the City property adjacent to the Community of Hope? Not more Community of Hope free-wheeling tent camps or free housing where the criminals just move into the city paid for housing to market their wares and activities under a roof gratis of the taxpayer.
Where does the solution lie? Directly in the laps of our City Council that dictates how effective our police can be through the Police Chief they hire and the funding the police department is given.

Community should act, fairly and quickly, after business vandalized

Your Turn

Peter Goodman

Sunday I visited a Hispanic-owned small business. ‘Little Dick’ had been scrawled on the wall with human excrement. Police still hadn’t showed.

The owner, Carlos, was standing by the wall and an overturned garbage can. He’s a gentle guy, not looking for trouble. Two homeless drug addicts frequently spend the night at this business. They leave behind needles and other trash, and also urine and feces.

I sympathize with them. I’ve had homeless friends, and friends addicted to drugs. Too, homeless folks often do no damage.

Our city sympathizes. The city supports Community of Hope, regularly waives bus fares, and its municipal court tries not to let the detention center become a modern debtors prison. Carlos sympathizes. He sometimes buys homeless people meals at a nearby restaurant.

I sympathize with Carlos, too.

Homelessness and addiction are societal problems. Our system results in some number of homeless people and addicts. It’s mostly not any one person’s their fault; nor is it Carlos’ fault.

Fairness demands we all help deal with this problem, directly or indirectly. Social justice and a pragmatic desire for community peace demand the same. We shouldn’t jail folks for poverty or being disorganized, and legally we can’t jail them for mental incompetence; but battery, threats and vandalism should have consequences.

There’s a cost to treating everyone with respect and care. Carlos and other small businessfolk pay that cost in ways most of us prefer not to imagine. He’s no slumlord cheating poor tenants; he doesn’t run a sweatshop; nor is he some huge corporation destroying people’s financial and physical health, then tossing ‘em on the slag heap.

He’s just someone working his butt off to get by and take care of his customers. Why must he spend part of his morning cleaning up urine and feces, and disposing of needles and empty food containers? Why must he be vandalized for asking folks not to sleep at his business? After calling the police, why must he wait and wait and wait?

Whatever your political views, tolerance levels, and faith, consider that someone less decent might have kicked these folks into next week by now. Sounds terrible, but I can understand how it might be tempting under certain circumstances.

Carlos’ uninvited guests show up toward midnight. A special detail could patrol nightly. It would include a police officer or two and a social worker, or at least someone savvy about social services. The detail would focus on problem areas. Before removing folks from private property, the detail could try to engage the trespassers about their situation and what alternatives might be available. Police could then evict trespassers, and either drive them somewhere better, arrest them for a crime, or warn them that returning to the premises will get them arrested. To minimize retaliation, the detail would explain they’re a city patrol, not called by the property owner.

I don’t mean to suggest that this is in any way easy. It’s not the city’s fault, but we need to do something, and the city has the necessary resources. (I’m encouraged that the Community of Hope and the LCFD are implementing services and programs that may help; but I worry about Carlos and others in the meantime.) We need to work together, without letting our differences distract us.

Maybe my idea won’t fly; but let’s figure out what does, and make it happen. Soon.

Las Cruces resident Peter Goodman writes, shoots pictures, and occasionally practices law. His blog at contains further information on this column.


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