the mayor being indicted Thursday, three shootings just this past week, and a 48% graduation rate, is it any wonder that residents and onlookers alike are saying, "Mercy Mercy Me, Ohhh, Things Aint What They Used to be" as Marvin Gaye once said.
Indeed, Trenton was once a booming town. According to Trenton Mill Hill, this city thrived in the early 20th century due to its manufacturing economy. However, the state's capital now finds itself in quite a quagmire.
News reports from The Trentonian indicate that the city now has 23 homicides on record. And to add insult to injury, the city's only downtown hotel, the Marriott, is talking seriously about having its name changed because it has been struggling to post a profit since opening 10 years ago.
Along with these developments, Trenton small businesses like Cafe International and Can Do Errands have both decided to close their doors, while the owner of another small business, the Baldassari nightclub, has not decided to close his establishment, but has voiced serious concern over the city's violent crime.
Indeed, blind eyes can see that there's something rotten in the city of Trenton. But what's more important to know now is: where do we go from here? City council members and concerned residents alike are speaking out. On the one hand, we have Councilwoman Phyllis Holly Ward saying that "Silence and inaction is no longer an option". She went on to admonish members of the community by saying that we need to "clean up, stand up, and speak up".
Then we have South Ward Councilman George Muschal saying that he was in support of creating a curfew that would require teenagers to be inside by 10 pm. However, Trenton Police Director, Ralph Rivera, said that he would not go along with such a curfew. Rather, he plans to saturate "those areas where violence has been occurring to decrease the level of violence we've been experiencing".
Lastly, we have community activist Duncan Harrison recommending that we hire part-time police officers as a way to help a police force that was reduced by a third due to recent budget cuts. The mayor has even appealed to the Governor's office through a formal letter requesting more funding to address the crime issue, but there has been no response as of yet.
I personally think a curfew is going overboard and will not actually solve the problem, it unfairly punishes everyone when the problem wasn't caused by everyone. I think 'fair is only fair'. As far as saturating high crime areas is concerned, this idea has promise, but at the same time, it may just influence the city's criminals to migrate to those other areas of the city, still leaving us with a problem. At the end of the day, I think the best thing we can do is what Mayor Mack spoke about earlier this week, he said, "The Trenton Police Department can no longer be expected to carry the burden of crime reduction on its own. Parents and guardians need to step up and take control of their homes and children. For those that need help, speak up and speak out. Our administration will continue to do its part by reaching out to state officials to secure additional public safety dollars".
Indeed, I think we (myself included) need to stop complaining and start helping out and be of service to our community. I don't know about you, but it hurts to see my community crumbling before my eyes. It hurts so much that I have decided to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club. Basically, I read to children once a week for two hours. And from speaking to the program's director, it sounds as though they need all the help they can get. And I'm pretty sure that other groups and organizations are in need of volunteer help as well.
Why not reach out to them and offer your services? If you just so happen to have a gift for mentoring, then why not be a mentor? If you have a knack for working with the youth or the elderly, then what's holding you back? Or maybe just maybe, you have about a hour a week, where you can start a neighborhood clean up on your block. Indeed, we can all be of service in our own way, we don't have to wait on public safety dollars from the State to get things done in our community. Sure, the funds can help and I do believe the government has a role to play in this, but at the same time, I say let's take the initiative as everyday people and start changing within for the better. What do you say?
For those interested in hearing an audio version of this blog recited by Anwar Salandy, click below: