Kitty Genovese, Writ Small

The murder of Kitty Genovese is well known both as a tragedy and as an example of the relationship between crime and distributed responsibility. It is worth remembering that the problem extends beyond violent crimes. I just received a copy of my Civic Association’s electronic newsletter. Such associations seem to spend much of their time alternating between cheerleadering for rising home prices and scaremongering about neighborhood vandalism. Sometimes, the germ of another neighborhood garden project is planted.

In the crime section, I found the following report (copied from original, with typos):

On Monday 4/16/07, between 8:55AM and 2PM, 200 block of S. 10th St., the complainant’s apartment door was pryed open and taken was a laptop computer. 911 was not contacted until after 6PM even though a neighbor saw the door broken at 2PM and the cleaning lady saw it at 3:30PM.

Is the goal here to shame the neighbor and “cleaning lady”? The Civic wants more 911 calls to increase police patrols in the area, despite the City’s evident needs elsewhere. As I understand it, Philadelphia has communicated to the relevant leaders that the way to obtain more patrols is to squeal more. Eek!

I have some doubts that you can create a culture of calling 911 given the Genovese-effect. But maybe I’m wrong. For instance, I’m home today working on grading papers. I’ve noticed that some neighbors from a block over are walking their dogs over to our street to do their business. This seems to me to warrant urgent police action . . .

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2 Responses

  1. David Cheifetz says:

    Now look outside my window, there’s some doggies in the need

    A quick nod from their owner now and then they’ve done the deed

    Maybe I should call the cops and try to stop the rain

    But grading exams is so much fun, I’d hate to blow the game

    And I’m sure it wouldn’t interest anybody

    Outside of a small circle of friends.

    Mea culpa, for those who remember and

    with apologies to Phil Ochs,

    Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends

  2. Ken Arromdee says:

    http://www.oldkewgardens.com/kitty_genovese-001.html

    Obligatory link. Don’t assume that just because a case has become famous in the media for something, that it’s been described accurately.