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ISLANDS NEED TO REPAIR 'BROKEN WINDOWS'

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Dear Source:
Your paper keeps me informed about the territory. The articles are great and the writers are knowledgeable. Keep up the good work. First, let me take this opportunity to thank fellow Source reader, Sue Seibel, for her kind words. She was correct in her assertion. "The problems that plague the islands would simply not be tolerated anywhere else." However, let me make it perfectly clear, the quest is not to take cheap-shots at anyone, but to simply provide information that may help stop the decay and restore the quality of life. The people of the territory are dear to me. These are trying times for everyone.
In the article, "Broken Windows" by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in the March 1982 issue of Atlantic Monthly, the authors theorized that neighborhoods become unsafe as a result of gradual disrepair. If one broken window is not repaired, soon other windows will soon be broken and the neighborhood takes on an attitude that people "just don't care." It is in this environment that the seeds of disorder will begin to grow and crime can flourish. This initial disorder comes in the form of panhandlers, drunks, addicts, prostitutes and loiterers. If this element is left unchecked, more serious crimes is sure to follow. Citizens perceive that the neighborhood is unsafe and stay locked in their homes. The streets are taken over by criminals and the condition worsens. The authors maintain that the neighborhood must remain free of broken windows, abandoned cars, graffiti and other signs of disrepair and that nuisance crimes not be ignored in order to maintain an area where serious crime will not flourish.
Successful police strategies to affect the problem suggest community involvement and police support. Community involvement can include: advisory groups; regular neighborhood meetings; neighborhood watch; business watch; PTA memberships; drug free blocks; citizens volunteers with the police neighborhood cleanups; neighborhood safety patrols; and graffiti removal programs.
Leaders have a significant role in creating the state of mind that is the society. They can serve as symbols of the moral unity of the society. They can express the values that hold the society together. Most important, they can conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations, carry them above the conflicts that tear a society apart, and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.
Ronald V. Davis
Hampton, Virginia

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