When John Davidson’s apartment gets robbed, he learns that the easiest way to get his stuff back is to have one drug dealer lie to another drug dealer while he lies to the police.
This story is punchy and funny. If you read it, I think it will help you understand why I am confused about the role of police in my neighborhood. That is, police provide one kind of enforcement: if there’s someone they can arrest, and they have evidence or good witnesses, they can act directly; they also deter crime, or, at least, suggest that fiends postpone doing fiendish things. Neighbors, on the other hand, don’t normally make arrests, but they are able to observe more than police can, and, more important, they can understand the social connections in a neighborhood.
I used to have a neighbor who would deal drugs, but not on our block, because that’s not the sort of environment he wanted his kids growing up in. So, when he saw a junkie crawling on the roof of my kitchen, he yelled at him and told him to get lost, and when we found out that crackheads had broken into the vacant house next door to mine, I knew that he would make sure they stayed out.