What can be done to protect the young—and ourselves—from the “freaky,” drug-related crime?
Some steps are being taken, although they admittedly represent only a beginning. The Sheriff’s Department of Los Angeles County, for example, has launched an educational program at 41 junior highs, high schools and adult schools throughout Los Angeles. The program, called The Citizen and the Law, brings officers into the schools, and takes school children on field trips to police stations, courts, etc. in an effort to break down some of the barriers between the police and the public.
The Sheriff’s Department, meanwhile, is actively seeking innovative approaches to crime prevention in a radically changing society.
Police generally feel that drugs have become so much a part of the scene among the young today that it is unrealistic to hope for complete eradication. “The best we can hope for is control,” says Lt. R. E. Kearney of the LAPD’s Crime Prevention Section. (Psychologists, educators, etc. are generally even more pessimistic. “The best we can hope for,” they believe, “is a reduced rate of growth in the number of drug-associated crimes.”) Kearney believes that control has to begin by isolating known heavy drug-users within the school or college population, “the same way we would isolate someone carrying a dangerous disease.”
Crimes against property are far easier to guard against than crimes against people, particularly of the “freaky” variety. “If someone wants to kill you,” the LAPD lamentably concludes, “and is willing to take some risk, there probably isn’t much you can do to stop him.”
You can, however, avoid associating with freaks. (Most murders are still committed by someone known to the victim.) If attacked, particularly if you are a woman, scream, resist, fight like hell. When driving alone, keep your car windows closed. If stalled on a lonesome stretch of road, stay inside the locked car until the police arrive. Don’t open the door or windows to strangers. Keep your purse out of sight.
Young girls wearing light, flimsy clothing while traveling about the city alone at night are still the favorite targets of rapists—who frequently do not set out intending to commit rape; something about the attractiveness or vulnerability of the victim gives the rapist his clue. Countless rapes, of course, go unreported, especially among female hitchhikers. Most criminals are opportunists. The more opportunities you create for crime, the more likely you are to be victimized.
Armed robbers are usually violent men seeking a bloody confrontation with their victims as an excuse to prove their “manhood.” Burglars, on the other hand, are more often gentler types who simply want to steal your stuff and get out. Usually, if challenged, they run.
The locks on most tract houses are worthless. Ordinary dime store chain locks are useful chiefly to keep the kids inside the house. For minimal protection against burglary, police recommend a good dead bolt lock. Also, a noisy dog is helpful. Burglars ordinarily do not like fuss.
If you see someone acting strangely in your neighborhood, call the police and they will be glad to come out and investigate. They can usually tell within minutes whether the person is engaged in a legitimate activity or not. It’s too bad that “support your local police” became a political slogan for the crank. Right since, generally, it’s a damned good idea.