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The screech of an argument on the other end of the block pierces the afternoon languor. Bazoff talks calmly for several minutes through the high-decibel exchange between one woman in the street and another on the porch of the blue duplex. "We keep a close eye on that house, and we know when it's going to pop and when it's not. . . . If it's just verbal, it's better to let them get it off their chests. If it's getting hostile, you ought to break it up."
The block club has learned other techniques: how to get a criminal background check or a rental history, how to file to evict a tenant, how to report incidents to 911. "You don't call in a loud music call when you've got four or five people. You call it in as a loud party because it gets a higher priority," Bazoff said. They've learned that planting word of a pending drug raid can scare off dealers - even if there's no raid planned.
In May, Bazoff relinquished the job of block-club leader to his niece as he prepared for yet another leg operation. Serving as the block's arbiter of what behavior is challenged has sapped him. "I'm
getting burned out. My temper's snapping at the wrong time."
The day Bazoff stepped down as block leader, community crime prevention specialist Hicks gave the club a pep talk. "If you weren't all here, showing that you care, people would do whatever they want. . . . Don't give up. Don't get despondent."