EDITORíS DESK: Who you gonna call?
Police work is a little like public-school teaching in that results are often hard to measure. Not all kids can be made
smart; not all citizens will walk the straight and narrow. This elusive perfection leaves even the best of educators and cops open
to criticism. In the case of the former, more and more alternative schools have been popping up in recent years, giving parents
choices for their children's education. But whoever heard of alternative police?
The Guardian Angels are no such thing, nor do they claim to be. But in some regards, they are close. The problem with loitering low-lifes here and there on the Westside seems to be tailor-made to the Angels' style and talents. As pointed out in our Page 1 story this week about the vagrancy at 29th Street and Colorado Avenue, the police may respond to such calls, but they do not have time to stick around. The bums undoubtedly are aware of this; they clear out when the cops drive up, then saunter back when they drive away. The Angels, on the other hand, patrol areas on foot, so their presence in a problem area is measured in hours, not minutes. Another point in their favor is that the vagrants, so far at least, have not shown violent tendencies. This is good, considering that the Guardian Angels carry no weapons.
What am I saying here? Just that there seems to be an opportunity for some cooperation between the police and the Guardian Angels on this matter. Unfortunately, so far, the local police have been acting as if the Angels are just some yokels who might get in their way. I don't think so, not after 26 years of experience and training across the nation. I'll bet some police departments out there have even written manuals outlining how the Angels can augment traditional crime-fighting. So why can't our local P.D. get on board with that? I don't know, but, as I recall, school choice wasn't so popular with public school teachers at first, either.