Charlie I appreciate your concern for my family, but I'm a professional with about 16 years of field work experience, well versed in and fully capable of taking care of myself under most circumstances. MPD also had my back; I had cell numbers for officers nearby whom I could contact before anybody explored any 'nuclear options.' That didn't prevent the two altercations described in the article, and it surely didn't make us bulletproof in Frayser, where I picked up a 9mm slug in my bumper, but I felt confident the po-po could get to me within 5 minutes everywhere I went. And on these isolated occasions where we felt our safety threatened, we called for police escorts and got them right away. I was no more or less in danger than every MLGW worker, every postal carrier and every sanitation worker who trolls these same streets unimpeded every day. And by the way, our large civil service workforce was another layer of protection in the field- a whole network of awesome people looking out for each other when the streets get mean.
I encourage you to weigh this risk against the value added by having a baseline of residential property condition citywide- I did, every day. Before this survey, our city had NO idea about the scope of our blight problem, and now reform is just around the corner and we’re already seeing improvements in many areas!
I considered it a gift and a privilege to have served my city in this way (plus I was paid a fair salary for my efforts- it’s my job, after all). In two years (and about 36k miles, all totaled) I have only these two bad experiences to parlay. Most times I was overwhelmed by citizen participation, generosity and kindness. And at the risk of really making your head explode, there were many times I had my six-year-old along, where she was able to witness civic engagement in its highest form, meet hundreds of neighborhood volunteers, and get to know more intimately the city of both our births. You can’t buy that kind of experience at any price, and my most sincere hope is that she, too, will live a life in service to the community. It’s something we all can do, regardless of what we do for a living, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You gotta teach it, and sometimes it’s scary and sometimes it’s risky and it takes you wildly outside your comfort zone. But do it anyway. The risk of bumping up against the bad guys is tiny compared to the payoff of living in the kind of world we want.
By Louis Goggans
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