An Anonymous Call to Arms

I’m here for one simple reason: to put forth my own opinion. If my personal point of view at all matches yours, consider it coincidence, not the result of any personal attempt on my part at mainstream acceptance (I gave up any attempt to be “popular” back in junior high school). That’s not to say that I don’t welcome your feedback or won’t accept your criticism. But, let’s get one thing straight: I don’t take requests. So, don’t ask me to champion your cause. And, if you want an article written on a specific subject, write it your darn self!

The reason I bring this up is that, following my article entitled “Wanted: Pride in our Neighborhood” (volume 3, issue 7), I was forwarded an anonymous letter signed only “A Concerned Citizen.” I won’t go into specifics, but, following a brief description of the criminal activity that plagues their particular area of town (a synopsis that included the plea “please tell me when living in Lakewood meant living in fear of your life”), the writer asked, “Is there anything you can do to help?” Following this question, this person inquired if I could write an article to this effect.

To the author of this letter and anyone else who feels they have similar circumstances:

There is probably nothing I or anyone else can do to alleviate your fear. Put plainly, if you find yourself in a situation where you truly believe your life is at stake, I don’t want to hear that you “can’t afford to move.” If your fear has even the smallest foundation in reality, then you can’t afford NOT to move. The only question is: to where? If you know of a location or neighborhood where there is no crime, I’d love to hear about it.

Now, I don’t want to trivialize this topic. Unfortunately, there are bad people in this world and, unfortunately, some of them live in our area. Fortunately, we each have the power to do something about it.

Living in fear is not living and criminal activity can only prosper in an environment replete with paralysis of public action. The need to remain anonymous is representative of a shortage of the very virtues that must assert themselves in order to rise above injustice. If you do nothing, then they’ve already won. Courage isn’t about being fearless; it’s a choice that involves the strength to do what’s right regardless of personal consequences.

So, if you’re looking for help with your problem of fear, the answer is still that there is nothing that I can do. But, if what you meant to ask was: “Is there anything we all can do to help?” Then, the answer is an emphatic: YES! While my name isn’t Clark Kent and this isn’t exactly the Daily Planet, I can help fight crime (I just can’t fit into those spandex tights).

After receiving that letter, I was able to sit down with Lakewood Police Chief Timothy Malley (okay, so maybe I do take requests…just don’t expect me to turn into Carl Monday). Since I’m an op-ed writer who makes no pretense of being “fair and impartial,” I’ll be straight up with you. I love our police department; I think they’re doing an incredible job with the resources they have, especially given the rather unique size and scope of the population which they serve. That said, I wanted to talk with our police chief about how we as citizens could help the police, not the other way around.

Chief Malley pointed immediately to the fact that the public is a huge source of information for the department. There’s no one better at recognizing suspicious behavior on a block than its residents. You know better than anyone else who should be there and who shouldn’t, what’s out of the ordinary, and how a particular disturbance was initiated.

The Chief also said that calls can definitely influence police presence, suggesting that great care is given to collect as much data as possible in order to determine patterns and then respond in an appropriate fashion. As far as crime prevention goes, we are the eyes and ears of the police force. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, call it in - don’t just sit back and hope that someone else will take care of the issue.

As for knowing when to call and for what, Chief Malley assured me that the city has two to three dispatchers on duty at any given time, so, when in doubt, call anyway and let them determine the proper course of action. Simply make sure to call the correct police line and be aware that response time can be dictated by events that may well be outside your realm of control.

As a rule of thumb, dial 911 for emergency cases involving an immediate threat to life, health, and safety. The Lakewood Police Department (LPD) also has another hotline (521-1234) that can be used for emergencies of a timely nature that might not represent the same level of potential danger as above. For instance, if you’re in a car accident and someone is hurt, dial 911. If you’re in a car accident and no one is injured, but you’re blocking rush hour traffic with glass everywhere, call the 1234 number. The dispatcher will always answer the 911 calls first, but both receive high priority. For issues that require the attention of the LPD, but aren’t of an immediate concern, call the main number (521-6773).

Just so you know, the average response time to a level one call (such as a crime in progress) is just over four minutes (4:02 according to the Chief). This is on par or better than many comparable municipalities.

In this day and age when just about everyone has a phone at their fingertips, the only reason the police aren’t catching criminals faster is that you’re not dialing faster.

If you’re curious as to other ways you can help bring about the change you desire in the neighborhood, I suggest you contact the Lakewood Police. At the very least, go to and check out some of the many special services they provide.
Read More on Perspective
Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 9:03 PM, 05.03.2007