I’ve survived a number of crimes. The idea that once the event is over, it can all be filed way doesn’t take human nature into account. I’m happy to identify as a survivor rather than a victim, but that’s learned behavior. Every few years it seems I get to learn it again. Everyone feels afraid sometimes.
After the night of the helicopter, it has taken me a little a little longer, every night to get to bed. I check to be sure that doors were locked, windows shut, too many times. Leave the porch light on, leave the backyard lights on, reconsider, turn them off, and go back ten minutes later and turn them on again.
I am also one of those people who leaves things open, who pops over to the neighbors without so much as closing the front door. I live in Culver City- what’s to worry?
More than you think.
Every week, almost every local media outlet, (including Crossroads) runs the Crime Blotter. It’s generally about four or five items, fairly benign little incidents that are deemed to be suitable for public consumption. (Of course, if it was your car that was stolen, it was not at all benign in your eyes.) The assumption that the police would you like you to make is that that’s it- that’s all the crime we had in Culver City this week.
That’s simply not true.
The scene at my house took between 90 minutes and two hours, involved about a dozen police officers, a dog and helicopter with a searchlight. It did not make the blotter. While I can pause at the thought perhaps Lt. Izuka thought this one had already gotten more than enough coverage, it seems more likely that the idea that there are prowlers out there is too threatening to the status quo. I estimate that what we get from the police as blotter material is just about the tip of the iceberg. The very smallest tip.
When I was the editor at the Culver City News, “police silence” used to drive me fairly crazy. I’d get a crime report from another source, write the story, and call the cops to confirm it. Knowing that the paper had to go to the printer Wednesday afternoon, they would often wait until Wednesday evening to return my call. “So glad to hear from you, “ I’d say “I did hold the front page so we could get a quote from you.” Without running the exact stats on how many times I printed the line “Culver City Police did not return calls requesting comment,” I can say – too often.
I hate having to lock my doors and windows. It depresses me that I need to put my laptop away out of sight when I leave the house. But truth is an essential ingredient in my life, and even ugly truths are more satisfying than lies.
The momentary break-in at my house in Venice changed my life. This happened in the midst of years of gang warfare in Venice Beach where there were bullets flying on a regular basis, and my safety rested on the fact that I was not a teenage boy wearing a bandanna of a certain color. While a broken kitchen window was bad, the incident prompted my landlord to put bars on my windows, which was horrible. As much as I hated the idea, I could not talk him out of it. My little palace turned into my little prison, in more ways than one. Every car I heard speeding down the alley in the night had my heart racing. All the advice- get a dog, get a gun, get a boyfriend – started to sound like sense. I loved living alone, and suddenly, it was uncomfortable. No one had my back.
Here and now, we all need to know that we do have crime in Culver City. Sad but true, it’s important to lock the doors and windows, and leave the lights on. Call your neighbors and check on them. Bring in the papers and the mail if they are gone for a few days. When there was a squad car in front of my house, the number of folks in my neighborhood who called and emailed to check on me was wonderful. I think I heard from everyone in a two mile radius. We don’t live in Mayberry. There’s a whole lot more crime in any daily police report than makes it to the Crime Blotter. But I’ve got your back, and I know you’ve got mine.