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The chicken and egg problem

Most of the comments from my newfound audience thanks to the Times sought to explain the increased police presence. Honorable mention goes to KR in TX, emily from the mynt and Edie Spencer whose comments I will address in future posts.

However things are not always as they appear and therefore deserve further attention. I will explain, but first let me summarize.

Why was police presence increased immediately after the first residents moved in? Commenter anon chalks it up to this experiment being a government collusion with real estate developers, while brooklynborn says that whites and those with higher incomes get more police protection. Similarly jessica says I get “Special treatment because [I'm] white and can afford it.” But 5-0 contends that “[The police] didn’t “suddenly” decide anything” and their increased presence is given “merely for being the latest pin on the weekly crime map.” Then walking complaint # echoes this sentiment with “They are more vigilant because you’re not.” Finally quincy joins the fun by describing your dear blogohost as a “petulant, demanding, and vocal … newcomer.”

I would first like to mention that

  1. it was the LA Times who said police presence was increased. I don’t think it’s usually considered an unreliable source. It also mentions a crack bust which happened immediately after the first residents moved in.
  2. I have not heard of anyone in the building being robbed or mugged. I have heard of car break-ins on the street, but then again I regularly see a pristine Jaguar parked on the street. I don’t know how to explain this disparity.

Both brooklynborn and jessica attribute the increased police presence to my race and economic status. I can see the case of economic status being made, but not everyone here is white. A hearty mix of asians, blacks, hispanics and whites live on my floor which is probably typical of the building.

On the other hand 5-0 and walking complaint # think it’s entirely our own naive fault the cops came. Their logic is we came, crime increased then the cops came. But see note #2 above. I have not heard of any increase in crime in the area, but the LA Times still claims that police patrols have increased.

Then quincy’s argument is that old axiom, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” We came, we complained, the police followed. Maybe, but I don’t know if my comrades would have known about the crack ring before the wrangling a month after we got here. That seems a bit too convenient.

Even so it’s not as simple as “higher incomes means more taxes means more protection.” I’ve indicated before, the rent I pay is reduced due to a government tax abatement program. Hence, in the short term at least, the government is losing tax money here. Apparently at the end of this program they get it back in spades. I can’t imagine Myrtle Place LLC holding on to the building for that long, but they would have an interest in the short term appearance of the neighborhood.

From all this I gather that there must be some money involved elsewhere. Clearly those like 5-0 and walking complaint # would rather not believe this since they are either in the force themselves or are closely related to someone who is. But they can take solace that it’s probably not on the level of the beat cops who you can see arresting people periodically. It is probably a few levels higher than that, at the people who decide where the beats are.

Strangely 5-0 also contradicts himself with his “cops only for the need” argument.

The police don’t care about your income, they care about the level of crime you’re generating. If anything, expect there to be fewer and fewer cops assigned to your area as (or if) it continues to improve economically.

Later brooklynborn offered another gedanken as to why CompStat cannot be the only explanation.

It looks like anon’s hypothesis is more sturdy than one might originally consider. When I started writing this post I thought that his comment was very conspiracy theoryish, but after some thought it seems to be the only proffered explanation that doesn’t contradict the circumstances. Weird! Any other suggestions?

P.S. When commenting, try keeping your comments to brief one point responses. This will enable your point to be clear and respondable. You can (now) always email me any extra comments you have at dakota at antbed dot com.

2 Comments

  1. Luke wrote:

    Ugh. After reading the Times piece featuring you and after perusing your blog, I have a horrible taste in my mouth.
    Guess what? Bed-stuy is a thriving neighborhood with or without daycare and a Duane Reade.
    People like you show up in established neighborhoods and expect things to change to your exact preferences out of some bizarre sense of entitlement. Somehow, you seem oblivious to the harm that gentrifiers do to lower- and middle-class neighborhoods.
    Let me spell it out for you: You and your ilk’s effects on the neighborhood force out people who have been living here for generations. Why? Because once you and all your buddies move in, attract Starbucks and raise the rents here, no one else will be able to afford it but you.

    The first sin of the gentrifier is moving into pricey new condos instead of renting a place that was already there. Once a few of the pricey condos succeed, it will only attract more realtors that smell money. Fast forward five years from now, rent has gone up $200 and only other wealthy whites can afford the neighborhood.
    If you want to live with yuppies, move to Williamsburg.
    I adore Bed-Stuy exactly because it does NOT cater to the needs of yuppie hipsters. It is a unique, thriving and beautiful neighborhood. If that fact isn’t obvious to you the second you step outside of your $1,700 condo, then this place will never be for you.
    I have too many points to touch on now, but I will return to vent.

    And in the interest of full disclosure: I am white, relatively well-off, and I live two blocks from you (in the “undesirable” direction).

    Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 12:08 am | Permalink
  2. Jeffrey Marx wrote:

    I moved to Bed-Stuy with a neutral yet optimistic sense of living. I was open and willing to love my new neighborhood. The point at which that attitude turned is when the the “people who have been living here for generations” start yelling, harassing, and being openly hostile for no reason other than the color of my skin and my adorable neon tote bag. I don’t understand the thought behind “Get the fuck out” vs. a simple “Welcome”. If more people in this world were welcoming rather than hostile, this world would be on a different track. I fight turning racist within myself every day due to ridiculous encounters with people in the community with their OWN “bizarre sense of entitlement”. Who is right? No one. So why can’t we all welcome each other.

    It gets so tiring.

    Friday, August 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

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