When you discuss things in public- good ideas come forward

The reason I hate the City Commission holding illegal work sessions (the Charter doesn’t provide for them, they aren’t recorded properly, and city business is discussed outside the official one-meeting-a-week specified by charter) is that good input might be closed out.

Peoria Police Armadillo

A conspicuous armored police surveillance truck

Discussing things online- in an open forum like this- allows for all to read and contribute. As part of the comments on my “What would Cory Booker do” post- the person who goes by “Civil Servants Are People Too” pointed to a great idea that Peoria instituted over a year ago to deal with nuisance neighbors- “The Armadillo”

A new, low-budget way to fight crime: Park an unmanned, former Brink’s truck bristling with video cameras in front of the dwellings of troublemakers.

Police here call it the Armadillo. They say it has restored quiet to some formerly rowdy streets. Neighbors’ calls for help have dropped sharply. About half of the truck’s targets have fled the neighborhood.

“The truck is meant to be obnoxious and to cause shame,” says Peoria Police Chief Steven Settingsgaard.

The Armadillo has helped alleviate problems like drug dealing that can make neighborhoods unlivable.

via Cops Use Old Brink’s Truck to Shame Suspects – WSJ.com.

And while nothing quite makes up for people on their porches, knowing your neighbors, and living according to neighborhood standards- when the neighbors are scared, there’s nothing like a bulletproof bad-behavior surveillance vehicle.

In fact, we could use it in front of 121 Bonner Street- where the police have visited at least a few times a week for the last two years. The residents are behind on their property taxes (they’ve never paid them since buying the house out of foreclosure) – and costing the taxpayers plenty in terms of constant police and ambulance runs.

Enforcement costs

While we have a fee structure for false alarms for security systems, we should also have an increasing fee structure for repeated police calls. More than 4 a year to a residence or more than 2 in a month- and the next one triggers a fine that’s appended to the water bill. If the water bill isn’t paid, water is shut off. If water is shut off- the house is ruled uninhabitable- and the residents must move within 7 days.

A listing of residents who’ve been forced out by these fines would be made public, and it would become impossible for them-to rent in the community.

A new hit TV show?

Instead of tossing the footage collected by the Armadillo- why not stream it online? Believe it or not- people will watch- and monitor the feeds- and then have a way for them to mark the footage for incriminating evidence. Think of it as crowd-sourced enforcement. It’s how we can identify and hold bad actors in our community accountable.

Will Chief Biehl act?

We know at least the Mayor reads this blog. Will he forward this article to Chief Biehl? Will the Chief respond? Will Dayton get an Armadillo or two of our own?

Why is it so threatening for our elected officials to engage via social media on forums like this? How come they don’t have their own blogs where they can share their years of experience and knowledge with us on how to calm communities? Chief Biehl, we’re asking?

Thanks to the mysterious Civil Servants are People Too we have a tried and tested way to help the people of Pointview, so what now?

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