As noted in “Momentum is being crushed by crime wave” (Nov. 27), crime is ruining our fair city. If we cannot buy groceries, drive to the bank or go for a walk without the real danger of being mugged or carjacked, something is very wrong.
What can be done? We could blame the City Council for their efforts to defund police. We could blame our police chief for allowing officer numbers and morale to decline. We could blame the system for not prosecuting juvenile offenders.
Blame may be appropriate. But it will not make us safer in the short term. I propose that we ordinary citizens take action to take back our city.
We could arm ourselves, or at least carry mace or bear spray. But those weapons could be used against us.
We could hire a personal bodyguard to accompany us on our errands. But this is impractical unless you are on the City Council.
As noted in the Nov. 27 article, some muggings occur very rapidly, such that there are no witnesses. That makes apprehension and prosecution unlikely.
What is my call to action?
Be vigilant: If exposed in a parking lot or on the street, be aware of your surroundings, alert for potential threats. If you have a panic button on your car keys and you are near your car, keep your finger on the button, and if you have the slightest concern for your safety, push the button. Worst case scenario: You turn it off quickly and look befuddled. Better alert and befuddled than oblivious and a victim.
If your concern is greater than slight, use a loud personal alarm to draw attention to yourself, create witnesses and discourage or end an assault.
One such device is the Safesound personal alarm. It looks like an egg with a “grenade pin” which is attached to a wrist band. When the pin is pulled it emits a loud siren. It can only be turned off by reinserting the pin. If you attach your siren to your purse, thieves will drop a stolen purse like a hot potato.
Or, you could carry an air horn or fog horn designed for boaters. It is small, will fit in a pocket or purse and also puts out a loud alarm.
Alarm devices of this kind could make excellent gifts for friends or family.
We need to look out for each other, as well as ourselves. If you are not the potential victim, but see a crime in progress, you should keep a safe distance, sound your alarm and point in the direction of the event when people look your way. As soon as possible call 911 and report a crime in progress. The police can only do so much.
We also need to teach potential criminals that their actions will not go unnoticed and unpunished. To send that message I propose that on the first Wednesday of every month, 10 seconds after the severe weather sirens are tested at 1 p.m., we citizens should test our horns/sirens with a short blast outdoors (hearing protection advised). The idea is to make sure the devices work, to become familiar with the noise so as to be less reluctant to use it, and to announce to criminals and neighbors that we have a plan.
One of the best ways to handle fear is to have a plan. Moving out of the city is also a plan, but a poor one. Minnesotans are resilient. If we can handle winter we can handle this. We can take back Minneapolis!
Granville Lawrence lives in Minneapolis.