An open letter to Savannah about crime and punishment
On October 26th of this year I broke the law. I was finishing up lunch at Clary’s when someone entered and informed those of us at the counter that there was a cop parked at the park pulling people over and giving tickets.
I made note of it, paid my bill and left to return to my jobsite a few blocks away on Tattnall. I am a resident and make my living here in town as a General Contractor.
As I made my right turn in front of the cruiser, his lights flashed and siren blipped. Officer Smith informed me he was issuing a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. He kindly informed me it would only cost $15 and would not incur points on my license.
As I sat and waited for my ticket a slow hot rage began to come over me. This policeman was racking up tickets for the sole purpose of generating revenue, making his quota.
But that isn’t what really bothered me.
I began thinking of the three shootings on my block in the last two months, of all the violence in our lovely city, and I suddenly realized I didn’t matter, we didn’t matter, the residents who listen to the gun fire, who console the victims, the victims themselves don’t matter.
The lawlessness that frustrates and angers us and brings us together in solidarity on neighborhood message boards like Nextdoor or Twitter does not include the police department, or the Mayor’s office, for that matter. The city is not in solidarity with its residents, the victims of this very serious problem of crime.
Theirs is clearly a difficult task and I don’t pretend to know what it takes to curtail such rampant violence. But it has suddenly become clear that we don’t matter.
Our feelings, our experiences, our fear. Am I being obtuse to say the police lack empathy or unity with law abiding citizens of Savannah, my brush with traffic violations aside?
While they struggle and often fail at serious crime fighting we still look to them for safety, security and yes, solidarity.
Do we find that solidarity in return? Does the police department, or the Mayor’s office seek to know us, to reward us with some gesture of support for our plight, some acknowledgement that we very much matter to the level of success and peacefulness that does exists in Savannah?
$15 matters little to me. That it mattered so much to a Police Department overwhelmed by crime and fear speaks volumes.
Ironically, as I write this, four shots rang out from the next street. But don’t worry, city leaders, my check is in the mail.Steven Bodek