After a period of relative calm, drugs are again on the rise in Miami. So what’s an average citizen to do? Here are the top five actions that anybody can take, no matter their age, job, or status, to make Miami a safer place to live.
#5. Get to know your neighbors
Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest crime prevention programs in the country, but its effectiveness at the local level varies quite a lot. What makes the difference between watch groups that are successful in preventing crime and those that aren’t? Trust.
When neighbors know each other personally, visit one another regularly, and trust one another on an individual level, they are more comfortable participating in collective activities, including those meant to prevent drug sales and other crimes. Even something as simple as exchanging names and phone numbers can have an impact, allowing you to reach out when you see something unexpected near a neighbor’s home or property.
#4. Support the local economy
Nobody sells drugs as a hobby. It’s an unpleasant business and the risks of being caught (or caught up with the wrong people) are two great. So why do people do it? “It’s all about the money,” one former drug dealer shares. When there are few viable ways to earn a living locally, selling drugs looks like a way out.
Look at your own spending habits. Are you supporting locally-owned businesses? On average, 48% of what you spend at an independent business goes back into the local economy, compared with 14% of purchases at chain stores. If you own a business or hire for one, are you reaching out to local networks when recruiting? Are you offering a competitive wage or salary? Are you willing to train entry-level employees who might not yet have 100% of the skills you are looking for? Broadening the base of economic opportunities for people in your area decreases the chance that any of them will feel they have to turn to illicit sources of income in order to survive.
#3. Build strong networks for young people
Here is some good news: cigarette, drug, and alcohol use among teens are at an all-time low across the country right now, making the current generation of high school and college-age youth one of the most sober in American history. While nobody is certain of why this is (some people wonder whether they spend too much time playing video games go out and get into trouble with drugs), there is a general agreement that today’s teens have stronger relationships with their parents than their peers from the past.
Beyond parents, teenagers benefit from strong relationships with other adults. Young people spend much of their lives artificially segregated from both younger children and older adults. This means they’re learning how to become adults from … each other. The more involved mentors, community leaders, teachers, and other adults who can model healthy life choices for them, the more likely these youth are to see little appeal in criminal behavior.
#2. Be aware of your surroundings
It’s pleasant to walk around in a daydream or sing along to the radio while driving in your car. Those moments of inattention can mean the difference between noticing something off about your surroundings and missing it altogether. Just as there are warning signs of an incipient school shooting or terrorist attack, there are distinct signs that drugs are taking root in your own neighborhood.
On their own, these signs can be harmless. A sudden uptick in short visits to a home could mean your neighbor had a new baby or a death in the family, or it could be an indication that drugs are being sold. A recent spate of graffiti might just be some kids who got ahold of someone’s DIY home improvement project, or it could be the first sign of gang activity. Taken as a whole, though, these observations could tip off law enforcement to a new development in drug crimes in the community. Keeping your eyes open as you go about your day is critical.
#1. Report issues appropriately
Of course, if you’re keeping a log or notice something unusual, there’s the question of what to do with that information. Most of the time, tips are not emergencies worthy of a 911 call. Online reporting options can be difficult to navigate in the moment, especially if you’re on the road. And then there’s always the concern that your tips may not be entirely anonymous. The average citizen isn’t an expert on crime, so how can they be expected to know how to report things effectively?
This is where Torch comes in. This innovative app allows you to report anything out of the ordinary as you find it, whether that’s a photo, video, or just a quick summary of what you’ve seen. You can add GPS coordinates, or not. You can share information about the circumstances, or not. And our experts will make sure your information gets to the correct agencies, leaving you with one less level of decision-making to wade through.