Large traffic corridors are designed for the moving of large quantities of goods and people. As a booming mid-sized industrial city, it made sense for four, five and six-lane avenues to run through the city. Traffic control is naturally built into streets where people are stopping frequently to turn into a business or pedestrians are crossing to get to one side of another, and when cars are traveling bumper to bumper because there are more cars than space.
However, this is no longer Dayton’s reality. Gettysburg, Salem, Main and James H. McGee do not support commerce because there is no significant economy to speak of. They are big and relatively open roads that lead to interstate highways that encourage speed. Over time, that encouraged behavior has developed into a culture. As a result, we have a cultural problem that law enforcement is not equipped to address.
Culture is shaped by the environment and if the environment does not make any sense nor will the culture that develops around it. More police always seem like an easy solution to crime and incivility, but it is rarely the answer. In this case, I believe a redesign of our infrastructure so that it better matches our economic reality would do more to deter dangerous behavior than anything else.
I understand that would be significantly more expensive than even the helicopter that hovers over my neighborhood. However, why continue to waste money on methods that do not work? I understand the challenge that this presents, but I also believe an outdated way of thinking about how to manage a city is preventing us from having the appropriate conversations.
Jared Grandy is a writer and organizer. He is the former Community-Police Relations Coordinator for the City of Dayton.