What inspired me to write this blog post, was more problems at the low-rent, older apartment building where I live in downtown Dickinson, North Dakota. Recently a couple of my neighbors were drunk, high, driving recklessly, and engaged in some vandalism late at night in the area where I live. After about twenty-five minutes of watching them drive recklessly up and down the street, into and out of the apartment building parking lot, not stopping what they were doing, I called the Police.
When the Police arrived five to ten minutes after I had called the Police dispatcher, by that time my drunk/high/vandalizing neighbors had driven away from the area and they were not caught in the act of what they were doing where I live. However, in the next hour or so, the Dickinson Police were called by other people reporting damage/vandalism and the Police did eventually catch up to my neighbors and they were arrested.
Later, a Dickinson Police Officer called me and he wanted me to explain more clearly, exactly what had happened at the apartment building where I live. I told the Police Officer that he could have the twenty-five minutes of security camera video that recorded what had happened. The Police Officer came to the apartment building where I live, he watched the security camera video of what had happened, and he then collected some of the physical evidence from the vandalism.
One of the reasons why there is so much drug dealing, drug use, theft, vandalism, and other crime in downtown Dickinson, is because it does not get reported to the Police. A small part of the non-reporting, is because some people have had bad experiences with the Dickinson Police, sometimes failure of the Police to do anything, and sometimes the Police being unfair and unreasonable with people. I feel like this sometimes about the Dickinson Police, this is part of the reason why I waited twenty-five minutes before I called the Police, I didn’t look forward to dealing with the Police.
The main reason why the people in downtown Dickinson do not call the Police about drug dealing, drug use, theft, vandalism, and other crime, is the same reason why the people in downtown Dickinson don’t try to say or do anything themselves about the crime, they are scared of retaliation and other consequences.
The neighborhoods of downtown Dickinson that extend northward and southward from the east/west running Villard Street that bisects downtown, are ghettos. They are ghettos because they have a high concentration of poor people, problems going on, and a high amount of crime that does not get reported to the Police.
I want to briefly explain why these downtown neighborhoods in Dickinson are ghetto and high crime, using some approximate numbers that are based on my observations and analysis. Approximately 20%-25% of the residences in downtown Dickinson are single-family homes owned by local residents. About 10%-15% of the residences in downtown Dickinson are single-family homes rented by local residents.
Approximately 10%-15% of the residences in downtown Dickinson are single-family homes owned by workers from out-of-state. About 10%-15% of the residences in downtown Dickinson are single-family homes rented by workers from out-of-state. This leaves a remainder of about 30%-50% of the residences in downtown Dickinson being rental housing consisting of subdivided homes, duplexes, apartment houses, and apartment buildings.
In downtown Dickinson, the local people who actually own their home (20%-25% of residences), these people probably care the most about what happens in their neighborhood, because it affects them the most. They consider whether they, their children, their grandchildren, and property are safe. Are they safe from burglary, robbery, assault, arson, vandalism, harassment? They don’t plan on moving, so they care about the condition of their neighborhood and what happens in their neighborhood.
The workers from out-of-state in downtown Dickinson who own single-family homes (10%-15% of residences), they care about what happens in downtown Dickinson because it affects them, but they are prepared to sell their house and move if they have to, they are even prepared to take a loss on the sale of their house.
The local residents in downtown Dickinson who rent a single-family home (10%-15% of residences), they care about what happens in their neighborhood, they may have school-aged children who they worry about, but in many cases these renters would chose to move rather than deal with or confront a bad situation in their neighborhood.
It begins to become evident, that for people living in downtown Dickinson, the strength of their feeling for protecting their home, the degree to which they care about what goes on in their neighborhood, their willingness to confront or report crime to the Police, has a lot to do with whether they are a long-time resident who owns their home, or are they a renter.
My approximation is that 60%-70% of the people living in downtown Dickinson are renters of single-family homes, subdivided homes, duplexes, or apartments. If or when these renters are faced with a bad situation or crime, rather than confront the situation, crime, or call the Police, they think about retaliation and other consequences, and instead do nothing.
Here are some examples of the retaliation and consequences that these downtown renters fear from confronting crime or reporting crime to the Police: Damaged personal vehicle so that they can’t get to work, cut tires, broken windows, water in gas tank, loosened wheel lug nuts, vehicle arson. Damaged work vehicle, stolen tools, stolen equipment from work vehicle. Break-in, theft, damage, vandalism, and arson to home. Theft of mail. Threats of violence, intimidation, and bullying to themselves or family members. Acts of physical violence, bodily injury, or death to themselves or family members. Creation of altercations to cause arrest by Police.
In summary, for approximately 60%-70% of the people who live in downtown Dickinson who are renters, they feel that it is not worth it to them to confront crime or report crime in their neighborhood to the Police, this is why downtown Dickinson is a ghetto.
One solution, which I will probably write about later, is that because the residences in downtown Dickinson consist of approximately 60%-70% rental housing, at least the apartment buildings should have some kind of on-site manager, whose job it is to watch out for crime and report it immediately to the Police.