Fighting Crime Together
The Press-Telegram should use its forum to make people more aware of how they can get involved, how they can make a difference. Printing the story of the Shaddens' plan was a great start. Make a point of printing stories of people helping people. I think those kinds of stories help motivate people to get involved.
A year ago, my 4-year-old son, Germaine Johnson, was shot and killed while sleeping in his bed. Yet he never made it through that night because someone took it upon himself to shoot (at) the apartment building that for three weeks we called home. An innocent family, we were found guilty by someone who never knew us. Too many nights, I lie awake thinking that if I had not moved into that neighborhood, my Germaine would still be answering when I call his name. The criminal who shot my baby boy is still walking around free; free to laugh, free to go anywhere he wishes, free to continually commit crime.
Maxine Johnson Shaw
Since I grew up in the central part of Long Beach and graduated from Poly High in 1972, there have been cultural, economic and political changes. I can remember the high aspirations of my classmates. Now, when I visit my old neighborhood and inquire about old friends, they are either dead, in prison, or are derelicts. In the 21 years since my graduation, the cycle of poverty and ignorance has become more vicious. If necessary, we need to enforce martial law by putting the military in high-crime areas. Some critics will say it is violence controlling violence, but one must look at the lesser of the two evils. It is also a matter of saving ourselves from ourselves.
Recently, I was stopped on Third Street at Long Beach Boulevard for a traffic light. Two `low-lifes' were crossing Third in front of me. They slowed down to give me the once over. Being alone and a woman, it seemed I appeared to be an easy victim. I immediately put my hand on my semiauto pistol and, without saying a word nor drawing my weapon, let them know it would be a fatal mistake to attempt any sort of criminal act against me. They kept walking. I know this is illegal, but I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.
I have written everyone from the president of the United States to the members of the City Council to try and do something about this crime plague, and I see no change. It has, in fact, gotten worse with no end in sight. As I write this letter, I count eight criminal acts that have happened to my home and the area across the street and to my neighbors' property since Aug. 1. I have just today filled out the ninth police report on my property for this year.
George E. Russell
I have a small business in Bixby Knolls and have been robbed several times. People come in and help themselves to my petty cash by distracting my employees. I was robbed again Aug. 20. When the police arrived, (they) said, "Oh, yeah, they've been hitting all over Bixby Knolls." They had descriptions and all. I wish I had known that so I could have alerted my employees (in advance).
I'm ashamed of an uncaring society and unconcerned parents who have lost love, participation and discipline with their children.
Alice F. Keller
I took out my pistol that I've never used and have been to the shooting range.
Patrick N. Moorehead
If you commit a crime as a juvenile, your driving privileges should be revoked until you are 21.
We all need to keep trying as individuals, groups, neighborhoods. I know there are more good people than bad.
Why don't you put crime news together and on other than the front page. I canceled the paper a while back because I didn't want to ruin my day by being faced with the worst crime on the front page day after day.
Create a "What's Happened To?" boxed column that reports what sentences were meted out to offenders. Too often, a Page 1 story that details a sensational crime turns into a Page 23 story when it finally gets to court and a sentence is given.
Do a continuing series on how individuals, neighborhoods or community groups are dealing with crime problems in a constructive manner. We all need to know what works.
Make sure your stories contain remarks and attitudes of parents who refuse to believe their kids actually committed any crimes. We need to realize that we are a part of the problem, as well as the solution.
The press always reports on the accused. What happens to the victims is seldom reported.
Marvin L. Jahn
I would like to see the Press-Telegram start profiling individual violent criminals. I want to know their names. I want to see their faces. I want to know what makes them tick, and I want them to tell me in their own words what I - and we as a society - can do to prevent criminals from taking over the city.
My brother from Oakland says his perception, from reading the Press-Telegram, is that the crime problem is much worse in Long Beach than in Oakland.... I have since read some issues of the Oakland Tribune, and my brother is right. So, is Long Beach really a terrible place to live? Or does our paper just give that impression?
The "Community Roundup" should not read like a murder roster. If you must print a list of violent crimes, don't call it "Community Roundup." It's insulting ... Many people do not subscribe to your paper because of the negative approach you have in reporting.
I started praying daily for the city of Long Beach in September 1991. And in February of this year, results were posted that overall crime was down by 8 percent. In 1993, crime will continue to fall in Long Beach because God is faithful to carry out the predictions of his messengers.
Try to convince citizens to vote for people who will make a difference. Write about the victims and less about the criminals. The criminals get lots of publicity in the news.
Make the punishment fit the crime. Our judicial system must be revamped. Criminals must be incarcerated for the full terms and receive incarceration without parole. This is supposed to be punishment for a crime, not time out in a corner.
Michael S. Wilbur
Actively use the death penalty to deter criminals, especially youths. Do not let the media "glamorize" executions. Just print on the front page a weekly list of executions and the nature of the crimes involved.
Because of vandalism incidents, the church I attend has put gates across the entrances to the parking lot. These are locked at 9:30 p.m. and not unlocked until 7 a.m.
Because of fear of auto theft, the parking lot in my apartment building is now access-controlled. For the same reason, the wall surrounding the parking lot has been made higher.
(Crime) caused me to move out of Long Beach to Lakewood. Many of my friends will not live in Long Beach because of the crime. I've lost many items from my home being broken into; usually (in) drug-related incidents. My insurance company told me I would be canceled if robbed again. After four attempted break-ins, I moved to a better neighborhood.
I have my own ideas about why we are in such a crime wave and a perhaps simplistic solution. I do not believe it's a lack of recreational facilities that has caused the darkness of crime to envelop us. Or that the mothers are working and not home. True, there are too many divorces and not enough responsible fathers (and) the influence of drugs is too strong ...
But I feel all these negatives are a result of not enough emphasis on harmony within ourselves and our environment. And this harmony can be achieved with sound. The most influential, profound sound you hear at birth is the sound of your own voice. It activates the endocrine system. Instead of developing the voices and ears of children, we have with ignorant, short-sighted budgetary restraints silenced or distorted them.
For most of my life, I have been a musician. I have observed the salutary effects of music on birds, animals, children and myself... After much thought, I can only conclude that the advantages offered by including music in the educational programs for children never have been properly considered. The benefits are not to be accrued directly in a financial manner but rather by raising the consciousness and the moral fiber of the nation as a whole... (music) should be offered in the primary and elementary grades with emphasis on therapy and communication.
Leigh C. Tuft
Do not publish what criminals have been doing. To me, that only glorifies the act and encoura. Printing how a crime took place plants a seed for more of the same to happen elsewhere.
I am in constant fear of becoming a victim of a heinous crime - not just loss of property or bodily injury, but losing (my) life.
Stop printing stupid articles that say crime is getting better. In reality, people are not reporting crime because they feel it does no good.
I want to applaud you in your efforts at making the public aware that crime is a real threat. That secure bubble of denial - "it won't happen to me" - is a fragile illusion that can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.
Run some articles about the self-defense products on the market. There are some very good, nonlethal, effective products out there.... Help people help themselves so they can go out and enjoy the life that is out there and feel a little more secure.
Support law-enforcement personnel and be tolerant when they "screw up," which they are bound to do sometimes given the difficulty of their work.
Perhaps a vigilante force in clear view would deter the criminal element that is slowly taking over the city, stripping us of our peace of mind, our very safety on the streets.
The cure for crime is as tough as stuffing that biblical camel through the eye of the needle. But it is time to try. We have to realize we are caught in the dying throes of an archaic era and still on the cusp of an emerging one, so that broad, sweeping ideas become basic and practical, however idealistic they may appear in our current culture.
Bottom line: (Some of us) have to learn to give up our excess material possessions and share, probably through taxes, so that we all will have enough - in the world, the nation, the states, this city, and in our own obese, ego-ridden lifestyles. Ending crime and the other symptoms of social decay will require a new ethic, a common willingness to redistribute resources according to need, rather than greed.
Government is not yet mature and visionary enough to operate such a plan, so citizens will have to lead.
Print the names of minors - and their families' names - who habitually break the law. Notify school authorities when a minor gets arrested and note the offense. Schoolteachers have a right to know.
I am a prisoner for a parole violation in Los Angeles County. I am 35 years old and have been convicted four times since 1985 ... I am an African-American, and I think I get treated like any other race of people, (although) there are times where I felt that I should not have been pulled over (by police) or stopped on the sidewalk and frisked. However, I have had white police officers wave at me and even offer me something to eat because I was homeless. I have come to realize that the person you could hate could very well save your life some day.
Chuckawalla Valley State Prison
It seems most of these criminals are young punks who have no fear of our lax criminal justice system. It is also apparent that television viewing has desensitized these young people, and older ones, too. Also, our welfare state has spawned generations with no motivation toward personal achievement of self-responsibility. They seem to think that what they want they can take through force. Their obvious resentment toward those whom they consider to be more fortunate is acted out in violence.
Get discipline back in the schools and homes. Bring back dress codes and religion.
Lamenting about the breakdown of "traditional family values" is a waste of time. It's already happened. What we need are programs and education to support, teach and enable the varied, fragmented family groups... to provide for themselves and each other.... Ways to organize teens, young adults, and seniors must be found.
There is humanpower that can be utilized for great public good - working with children, keeping teens off the streets and helping overstressed families. These helpers will be simultaneously helping themsleves. We don't need expensive bureaucracies to provide these programs.
Tina B. Tessina
Nobody should be in possession of a gun except law enforcement.
Ruth H. Cates
Most people in every neighborhood seem to be waiting for someone to fix things; someone should clean up the city, the crime-riddled neighborhoods, the problems. Someone should rid the street of crime, gangs and drugs.
I say, "Well, folks, someone is me, someone is you, someone is us."
But where do we start?
Jill Marie Landis
It is time that juveniles who commit these offenses receive the same treatment as adults. We should not be keeping their names out of the papers. Why should they receive special treatment? They are not the victim. They know what is happening and what they are doing. They are not naive, unsophisticated people.
Re-establish the prestige of the American family unit. Sixty percent of American wives are working and many would like to be home with their children. Provide a $30,000 yearly income tax deduction (on a joint return) for married women who do stay home and provide control of children under the age of 18. This, in turn, opens up many jobs previously held by the working mothers.
Robert N. Hoss
Print people's names and their alleged crimes. When they are convicted, do it again with the sentences given by judges. (That way) we can get rid of soft judges.
Two years ago, our family van was stolen from in front of our Belmont Heights home. The following night, I drove through the rough neighborhoods of Long Beach and found the van.
As I was waiting for police to come and turn the car over to me, four kids - 12 to 14 years old - jumped into the van and took off. The fact that my car was gone again made me hysterical, but not before I noticed the faces of the kids who stole it. They were trying to look tough and cool with their friends but they also looked scared and vulnerable. I see the same look on my son's face when he is hurt or in trouble.
Yes, I am resentful my car was stolen. But I saw this experience as a call for help and spent some time volunteering for an organization committed to helping these youths. I wish more people who are afraid of these faceless criminals would face them head on. Reach out and find a way to give these kids real hope and opportunity. It will go a long way toward resolving the anger and the crime.
Pay some foreign country to jail hardened criminals. It's too expensive to keep them here.
In the summer of 1992, my 82-year-old mother-in-law was mugged in our otherwise peaceful community of Cerritos. She was assaulted in daylight on a busy main street only a few feet from her home. Her assailant made an unsuccessful grab for her purse, which was secured to her shoulder. Fortunately, concerned passers-by came to her rescue, chasing off this attacker who left this defenseless woman lying seriously injured on the sidewalk.
She was rushed to the local emergency room for treatment of numerous injuries.... Many months of rehabilitation and suffering were ahead ... (But) rehabilitation proved unsuccessful. To this day, she is in great pain, unable to use her arm. However, she continues to work hard to reach maximum arm motion and refuses to let this unfortunate event keep her from enjoying her favorite activities.
The assailant, as it turned out, lived within short walking distance of our home. Witnesses followed him to his residence and police later made an arrest. Subsequently, however, he was released. The district attorney cited a lack of evidence and declined to prosecute, thereby releasing this animal into our unsuspecting community to continue his life as normal.
The victims assistance program has, to date, offered to reimburse my mother-in-law the sum of only $50.
This is one family that is highly disillusioned with the American justice system.
David J. Koch