Captain Mike Meehan, the new Commander of the East Precinct, spent about 3 hours touring the Madison-Miller area on Friday evening (6/11/04) After visiting the Miller Community Center, and talking with Center Director Gina Saxby about the drug and prostitution related problems in the outside bathrooms at Miller, he visited a number of homes close to East Madison Street, and talked with groups of neighbors gathered at each location. People from the various groups tagged along as the Captain toured the neighborhood, and made contact with new neighbors as they went along.
He listened to neighbors' concerns, and suggested several simple measures that the neighbors could take to make their environment safer. He emphasized that while the Police could help with an immediate problem, by arresting someone, their experience was that (due to long waits for court dates and short sentences) this did little to help the long term chronic problems in the neighborhood. His advice was for the neighbors to select a couple of discrete problems and to concentrate on finding solutions for them. A problem bus-stop on E. John and several vacant houses on 21st Ave. E. seemed to be the best candidates for neighborhood action.
He further noted that the Police Department's efforts to bring social service help to the street population of East Madison Street was having some success: the "hardcore" people seemed difficult to reach but some of those "on the edges" were making use of the services. These efforts were originally offered on Tuesday afternoons, but the social services outreach was tried one evening last week. They will also be doing a Saturday morning outreach for Juneteenth (see message appended below).
The previous day the Captain had toured the Cal Anderson Park neighborhood, on a similar fact-finding mission. The Miller and Cal Anderson neighborhoods worked closely together this Spring, lobbying City Council for funds for a new 8 Officer bike patrol for the East Precinct. Councilmember Licata found money in the 2004 Budget for public safety outreach funds, but the funds were deleted during the Mayor and the Council's efforts to cope with the City's budget woes.
Captain Meehan reported that they were making renewed efforts to get Patrol Officers out of their cars, and were using both bike and foot patrols. They are also hoping to deploy the Mobile Precinct Van in the Madison area more often.
He and the neighbors speculated about what effects the opening this Fall of the new Safeway at 23rd & Madison (and its 250 rental apartments) would have on the street drug-dealing and prostitution. There seemed general agreement that the problems would disperse, but no consensus as to which direction they would go.
Here are a few pictures from the evening