Focus on Areas of Pervasive Criminal Activity

RECEIVED Sat., Oct. 13, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Regarding a “no solicitation” ordinance, please allow me to offer some insight as someone who is a homeowner in the belly of the beast here at North I-35 and Rundberg. Drugs and prostitution are rampant, arrogant in their obviousness, and virtually ignored by the Austin Police Department. Here, drugs, prostitution, homelessness, and alcoholism inextricably intertwine into a pervasive and diseased subculture.
    The other day, heading east on Rundberg, I saw four hookers at a gas station off I-35 at 9am on a Saturday morning. When I got to the bottom of the hill, where Rundberg dead-ends into Dessau, there sat a cop with a radar gun. That, to me, seemed very symbolic. Ticketing speeders brings in revenue. Busting the pimps, hookers, crackheads, and drunken panhandlers farther down the street uses APD resources with no monetary return on investment. It’s a simple man-power math problem. In principle, I think a “no solicitation” ordinance is unconstitutional. To effect change we need to enforce laws we already have. The homeless are drawn to the area because of the general lawlessness. Maybe if we demand that APD focuses less on traffic enforcement in the community’s obvious trouble spots of pervasive criminal activity and more on the actual criminal activity itself, a side effect might be a decrease in panhandling. And, no, I’m not writing this because the cop at the bottom of the hill gave me a ticket.
James Bryant
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