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By Martin Lamarque

Waking up to the sound of gunfire

Uploaded: Jan 1, 2014

The other day I was awakened by the sound of gunshots, at five-twenty in the morning.
Half asleep, I think I nonetheless guessed right. Five shots, north-east from my bed, one street over, towards Newbridge.
I expected the sounds of sirens to soon make their way into the neighborhood. But after a few minutes, the silence continued, and I was relieved that this time, apparently nobody had gotten shot.
After the last spate of shootings in November, they picked up 3 guys who are suspected of going around the neighborhood shooting at homes and cars. It turned out that the oldest is only 21, the other 2, juveniles.
A couple of days later, I found out that there had been three incidents of firearm attacks in Belle Haven that week, not counting the one that woke me up. Whether it was the work of this trio or not, one of the shootings, on November 24, was into a car occupied by a mother and her 2 children; ages 4 and 5.
I lay there, unable to go back to sleep, wondering not so much about the shooters, as I did about their families.
Where do these kids live? Who are the parents? Who makes sure they are home, and in bed at night?
Do they wonder whether at 5 in the morning, if they are not in their bedrooms, they might be out there, shooting at people, cars, and houses?
How did these kids develop such disregard for others' lives, and their own? Did they, as the scientific research suggests, grow up subject to abuse and neglect? Does anyone from the 'system' pay a visit to the families, to see what can be done to support them in improving their resources and parenting skills?
These are the questions us, and our authorities should be asking if we are going to start making a dent in the crime rates of neighborhoods like Belle Haven. We have tried incarceration, at a very high cost, and it hasn't resulted in any tangible reduction in crime, as evidenced by the ever growing "need" to build more and bigger jails.
Notifying landlords that there might be gang members among their tenants, as our police intends to do, is just another patch in the long list of ineffective patches we've been applying to a problem that requires long term solutions. This measure may, or may not, rid the neighborhood of a few gang members, along with their families, but their places in the gangs will not be vacant too long. For as we speak, the next generation of gang members is already being raised.
And by the way, I believe Chief Jonsen is trying his best to help us with our crime problems; but his training and resources are for law enforcement. He can't, and should not be expected to combat the root causes of our ills. That is a project for us residents to tackle in association with our authorities.