Councilwoman Crampsie Smith: “This area needs to really be given attention”

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Gadfly wraps up today’s long “neighborhood” thread from last Tuesday’s City Council meeting here.

He loves the real down-to-earth people from our town, and they are no more compelling than when they are in need.

He spun this thread out hoping you would linger on each of the resident testimonies.

You don’t want to depend on summaries and soundbites.

You want to hear the live voices. And recognize the common humanity.

So, where do you go when you are in need? When you are in trouble. When you need help.

You go to City Council, of course, which, as I always say, though administratively powerless, is to our residents the “face” of City government.

So these people came to City Council looking for someone to help.

Gadfly doesn’t mean to slight the other Council members, but he senses that in her short time on Council Grace Crampsie Smith, who has a family background in law enforcement, is focusing on such neighborhood issues as block watches, policing, housing.

So he brings this thread to an end (for now) with Councilwoman Crampsie Smith’s concluding remarks on the issues these residents brought to Council’s attention.

  • While we want every single neighborhood in the City to be safe, we are seeing certainly an increase in drug problems and poverty and homelessness and affordable housing, but I think this area needs to really be given attention because of the number of drug and criminal activities that have occurred in the last five years.
  • I really would ask that the City Administration and the Police Department and especially the Zoning do everything they can to try to rectify the problems we’ve been seeing.

It may not be clear from Gadfly’s clips that the main focus of attention in the resident comments has been on the 900 block of Main St., with some reference to Garrison St.

“I feel community policing is very important”

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A resident proposes a plan in response to the problems detailed over the last several posts, and — behold — we see another gadfly born!

  • I know many of the older police, and we managed to clean up quite a few blocks.
  • I feel community policing is very important, because it is the only way that citizens get to see that police are human too.
  • We became good friends.
  • And we managed to get good block watches going.
  • I hear now that nobody wants to get involved any more in community policing.
  • Some may not admit it, but they are afraid — and I understand that totally.
  • Because I’m afraid . . . some guy pulled a gun in front of my house at me.
  • I was pretty much a prisoner of my own home.
  • Community policing has done a lot for me and other people.
  • So I would really like to see something done with this.
  • Get officers in to this, I’ll even volunteer to work with them.
  • This is a very important part of the police department.
  • If they’re afraid to go out there and talk to people, that’s not good.
  • I’m going to be a thorn in everybody’s side, but I’m doing it for the good of my home, which is Bethlehem.

Gadfly knows this is a big change of pace, but how about this as an example of good community policing?

“We have so many issues on our block”

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No Gadfly comment needed here either . . .

  • We do have a block watch now [900 block Main st.].
  • We just call the cops all the time.
  • We have so many issues on our block.
  • I keep complaining to the Health Department and finally they were inspected.
  • So we keep complaining . . . and nothing’s being done.
  • I’m curious what you plan on doing to rectify this, to make it a safer environment.
  • We have a daycare, a grade school . . . It’s not safe to walk up and down the street.
  • What can you do to make it safer?
  • I would think there would be more due diligence.

“There’s a meth lab on the corner”

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Needs no commentary . . .

  • There was a shooting on our block . . . over drugs.
  • There are homes on our block that are known to be selling drugs.
  • I’ve called the police time and time again. Nothing is being done.
  • There’s a meth lab on the corner.
  • We need to do something . . . to take control of our homes and our neighborhoods.
  • It’s not safe for our children to go out and walk.
  • This is crazy, and nobody’s doing anything about it.
  • I worry about our next generation.
  • Do you want everybody to move out of Bethlehem because it’s not safe any more?
  • Nothing was ever in the newspaper about the shooting.
  • I understand that the police force needs more officers.
  • We need to do something.
  • We do our due diligence. We need protection, and it’s not there any more.
  • I’m afraid.
  • No one’s doing anything about it.
  • I get they’re understaffed.
  • My taxes should be going to safety.

to be continued . . .

“We do have a drug problem here in Bethlehem”

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Public comment at the City Council meeting last Tuesday night had more than the usual “edge” to it as a series of residents made moving and powerful statements about problems in their neighborhoods revolving around drugs and called for more policing, especially community policing.

A few posts ago Gadfly called attention to the return to active duty of resident Gadfly Eddie Rodriguez. Here you can see him forcefully and bluntly consolidating the message that several other residents delivered and which Gadfly will present in subsequent posts.

But for now listen to Rodriquez presenting the problem and calling for action.

Gadfly’s idyllic Norman Rockwell image of Bethlehem took a hit.

  • I would like something to be done.
  • We do have a drug problem here in Bethlehem.
  • It’s important to take the input from these community members.
  • These community members are scared.
  • I know for a fact that what these people [neighbors] are commenting on, that is happening.
  • These people [drug people] are not going to give up just because you had a drug raid.
  • You have more drugs down on Garrison Street than what anybody suspects here.
  • I came from that world . . . so I know, personally myself, as to what’s happening in these communities.
  • If you’re not doing anything, it’s not going to happen.
  • You have to get involved, really involved, and bust these people.
  • It’s the drugs.
  • They don’t give a darn about what they do and how they do it and they don’t care about your churches and they don’t care about your community.
  • They are out to destroy.
  • Do something about it before this situation gets out of hand.
  • I’m pleading with you for the sake of the decent-living community members that came out here.
  • Do something now before it’s too late.
  • You gotta get the police more involved.

to be continued . . .