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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Close to Home

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2007 at 2:20 PM

This past Sunday afternoon, a woman and her three-year-old daughter were getting into their car on the 4500 block of South Galvez St. when a young man robbed them at gunpoint. This is in the heart of Broadmoor, my neighborhood, and less than a couple of blocks from my house.

That same evening, I walked my dog along with my own three-year-old daughter. I wasn’t aware of the crime, but I am now. While it still angers me that a crime like this can happen

so close by, to a neighbor and the next time it could my family—I am very proud of and impressed how my neighborhood has handled it.

People are talking.

We’re a tight group in Broadmoor, just like a lot of other small parts of New Orleans like Hollygrove and Pontchartrain Park, and we can get pretty angry when something like government tries to mess with us, or someone tries to hurt one of our own.

As soon as the crime took place, people began spreading the news about it throughout Broadmoor. Neighbors were knocking on neighbors’ doors and letting them know there was a criminal lurking in the area and to be on the lookout. My neighbor, Betty Foley, who has lived in Broadmoor for more than eighty years, told me about it last night.

If I had looked on the Broadmoor Improvement Association Web site, I would have known even sooner. Duffy Voigt, who lives a block over from us, posted a description of the crime and suspect the day after it occurred.

“The police can’t be everywhere,” Voigt says. “And if you have neighbors who have no idea what’s going on, then they won’t be taking the proper precautions.”

LaToya Cantrell, BIA president, says that it can be a fine line reducing people’s fears of escalating crime, but at the same time, keeping folks informed. Ultimately, Cantrell says knowing about criminal activity can be empowering—that and a little pride in the neighborhood.

“Hopefully, it (the possibility of crime) will provoke action like calling the police about suspicious people or suspicious activity. It’s like: ‘Not in my neighborhood,’ and ‘Who are these people and what are they doing on my block,’” Cantrell explains.

Virginia Saussy, the head of BIA’s crime prevention committee (these are committees that get things done and shouldn’t be compared to other committees like the, ahem, City Council’s sanitation committee), says it’s hard to prevent a crime like this that takes place in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, but you can still be vigilant by being aware and watching out for yourself and your neighbors. So far, the police haven’t arrested a suspect, but, hopefully, it won’t be long.

You can run, but you better not try to hide in Broadmoor. We want the criminals to be afraid in Broadmoor—not moms and three-year-olds.

While government failed on all levels after the storm—federal, state and city—neighborhood associations have become stronger and have worked for their people. My neighborhood association, the Broadmoor Improvement Association,—and I’m sure yours as well —is one of the best.


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