Why Some Communities Police Themselves, While Others Don’t

The Atlantic Cities:

A few months after I moved to my current neighborhood, I witnessed a driver get out of his car and attack a pedestrian. While I’m still not clear on what sparked the incident, from what I could make out, the pedestrian had walked in front of the man’s car at an intersection (not an uncommon occurrence in a pedestrian-friendly D.C. neighborhood).

The incident involved more person-on-property violence than person-on-person violence, but it was nevertheless a gratuitous and frightening overreaction on the part of the driver. A half dozen or so people on the street, myself included, had stopped walking to watch the scene unfold. But none of us did anything. I felt like I could’ve done something—I thought myself big enough and strong enough—but I stood frozen in place. Just as the Jeep driver’s behavior toward the pedestrian seemed to reach a crescendo, a maintenance worker from a nearby apartment building began running toward the vehicle, shouting, “Leave that guy alone!” The Jeep driver whipped his head around, a crazed look on his face, then put his ride in gear and peeled out.

In the end, my only contribution to the event was giving the Jeep’s license plate number to the police. Since then, I’ve often wondered why I didn’t do more. A new study out from the University of Maryland offers an answer.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic Cities

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