Howdy folks! I hope everyone is enjoying the summer and has been able to take a vacation or two. This month I am going to write on a topic outside the usual safety and security articles. We are going to look at perception and how it relates to our environment, or neighborhood.
As per Wikipedia, “Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment.” Now what does that have to do with safety and security? Well, if you are living in a community, perception can have a lot to do with how safe you feel in that community. Now, perception is usually complex and different for each individual and dependent on various factors; life experiences, beliefs, type of community (urban vs rural), age, socioeconomic status, economic structure of the community, just to name a few (safecommunities.org). When looking at our neighborhood we have many whom have different life experiences, beliefs and we have a wide range of ages. This not only adds variety but also a vast difference in perceptions. So, what does all this mean? Glad you asked. When I moved here approximately 15 years ago I thought the neighborhood was very quiet. I frequently walked the streets before and after work and wondered how a neighborhood could be so quiet in proximity to a major downtown area. Even on the weekends it was quiet. Hence, my perception was that this neighborhood was very safe. Fast forward to the current time. It is still somewhat quiet during the week and the weekend tranquility has dissolved a bit. Especially at my location near San Jacinto and Liberty. We have a few bars which has attracted a lot of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Consequently, my perception, because of my location and what I see on the weekends, has changed since moving to the neighborhood. Do I feel less safe? Not necessarily, but I may be less likely to stroll the neighborhood between 11pm and 2am (which I did previously). Another stimulus to change my perception is this board position. I constantly read NextDoor.com and the police crime statistics about events in our neighborhood. If you focused a considerable amount of time on everything that is reported on either of those two sites you might be hyper-sensitive to your surroundings possibly resulting in a change of perception regarding your safety. So, to those who read those sites (as well as those who are aware of on-goings), has it changed your perception on whether our neighborhood is safe, or less safe than in previous years? Do you find yourself walking outside less? Or walking your dog less? If you answered “yes” then your perception has changed. And why is this important again? Because a change in perception stimulates action. If all of us in the neighborhood perceive we are less safe, then we will take steps to make changes to improve safety/security. Which is what I see in the on-line forums from our fellow neighbors. There are many of us ready for change. The question is how do we make the changes that eventually will influence our perception from feeling less safe to one of feeling safer?
Well, I hope this wasn’t too unstimulating. I thought this topic was interesting because I can see how the perception of all we see in our neighborhood can impact how we interact in it and with each other. As for myself, I will still be out walking at odd hours. I still find peace in the neighborhood. I still like living here. Be observant, vigilant and neighborly!
– Joseph Schill, Security