Greg Dixon 2020-2021 Winter Survey: Safe Neighborhoods

Safe Neighborhoods was ranked highest by those taking Greg’s winter survey, with a second group including City Services, The Environment, Equality of Opportunity and Fiscal Responsibility also important, but ranked lower. Access to Madison was ranked the lowest, but close to the middle group.

People want safe neighborhoods. That is the primary take-away from my winter survey, and does not come as a surprise to me. In all of the Glendale Neighborhood meetings my wife, Emily, and I have attended, neighborhood safety has been the most frequent topic. On Next Door, there are frequent reports of car thefts and auto burglaries, and Madison residents have been shocked at reports of gunfire, with occasional stories of homeowners digging bullets out of walls, and even accounts of people getting shot–often young, often Black, sometimes complete bystanders to targeted violence. Eleven-year-old Anisa Scott was shot and killed on East Washington Avenue in August last year. She was a passenger in a car. She was in middle school.

In the midst of this violence, trust between police and civilians has broken down. People protested for weeks, folks smashed windows and looted small businesses. The police chief quit. The police union voted “no confidence” in the mayor. Some have called for decreased funding for law enforcement.

I was surprised to learn last year that 84-percent of Blacks nationally support increased funding for law enforcement. That’s right–increased funding. That should come as no surprise, really. Violent and other crimes are committed against Blacks more often than whites. Blacks want to be treated fairly by police. But Blacks also support law enforcement.

I spoke with a woman in the Owl Creek neighborhood, as my wife and I were doing a “walk and talk” in my run for Madison City Council. She had moved from Milwaukee. She likes her new Madison neighborhood. She told my wife and me, “The police helped get rid of some troublemakers, and now things are good.” I realized that if I told this story to people, many would say, “She’s a racist.” The woman was Black. She didn’t say what race the troublemakers were. We make all sorts of assumptions. Many are wrong.

Police cannot make our neighborhoods safe. But we need the police. Southeast Madison is annexing Blooming Grove and the Town of Burke. The area is increasing. Shouldn’t police staffing increase to fill the void? When poverty increases, crime increases. The pandemic has led to people losing their jobs. Is this really a time to decrease funding for law enforcement?

But ultimately the police cannot make our neighborhoods safe. Neither can social services. By the time these problems reach law enforcement or social services, they are nearly impossible to solve. Police and social services are important, and right now they both need increased funding. But the actual solution to these problems requires Equality of Opportunity, which earned a middle-ranking in my winter survey. When opportunity increases, crime decreases. We should focus on Equality of Opportunity. That is the primary theme of my run for City Council, and has been the topic of several prior posts. I will talk more about that in the future, and I will also expand on the results of my winter neighborhood survey.

2 Replies to “Greg Dixon 2020-2021 Winter Survey: Safe Neighborhoods”

  1. We live on Dolores Dr. off of Vondron. and have been in this house for 42 years. I grew up on Camden Rd and went to LaFollette. I remember when the area I live in was farm land. In the 60’s we never needed had to worry about people stealing our cars. And stealing from garages or coming into our houses.

    We had a friend that had just returned from a vacation and was in the process of unloading his car and someone came into his garage and stole his car. This is not acceptable. We need to band together to stop this immediately.

    This is a Huge concern of mine.

    • I have heard many stories like yours–a number that quite surprised me, actually–walking through neighborhoods and talking to people. Madison is expanding, annexing Blooming Grove and the Town of Burke, yet public officials and other City Council candidates are talking about reducing funding for law enforcement. I think we should do the opposite–increase funding for law enforcement in our neighborhoods in southeast Madison, during the pandemic, and as we expand Madison geographically. At the same time, we should work to increase equality of opportunity, which is a long term solution to some of these problems. I discuss ideas for equality of opportunity in several posts.