There is a disturbing trend in the cities of America. This trend is the complete disregard of the law and a persistent ignoring of very serious problems that affect the health, safety, and wellbeing of all that live, work, or do business in them and the surrounding suburbs. This cannot go on without some very serious consequences. When people are forced to take the law into their own hands, the situation can get out of hand quickly. Violence and chaos are far too easy to start and difficult or even impossible to stop without massive devastation.
When there is no law then that is anarchy and many of the larger cities in the United States are descending into it.
Anarchy is a slippery slope. When leaders issue orders to not arrest people for crimes, that is a warning sign that things are going downhill at a rapid rate.
What laws are not being enforced?
Stores are being told they are on their own when it comes to stopping shoplifters. Everyone can just hire their own security force right? That is totally affordable for the small business owner in the eyes of some.
There was a time when people would be told to move on or go to jail. Now there is no jail and police are not allowed to break up homeless camps in cities, even when they are literally on the sidewalks.
Smaller amounts of hard drugs like meth and opioids
Cities such as Seattle have told their police to not even bother booking someone unless they have more than about 30 doses of heroin. That is considered a personal amount and not anything anyone should worry about.
One would think they have the right to say that someone cannot live on their property without permission or paying rent. More property owners are finding that they have a much harder time ridding their property of squatters.
People can make fun and scoff at celebrity LA landowners like Johnny Rotten for complaining about homeless encampments on their front yard but the man has a legitimate complaint. His wife has Alzheimer’s and a bunch of people in the front yard that are on drugs and unstable is not a safe situation. Just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean they don’t have a legitimate complaint if property laws are not enforced.
Other laws are not being enforced too, and it varies by location and the problems being faced.
Lack of law enforcement is characteristic of an SHTF scenario or breakdown in social order
When crime reaches a certain point, there is no way to combat it effectively. While it is a numbers game in that there are only so many law enforcement officers, there is also a limit to how much risk they are actually willing to take in a situation that seems hopeless. While it is easy to point fingers and say “do your job” or “you signed up for this why aren’t you doing anything” we also need to look at why suicide rates of law enforcement officers in many of our nation’s cities is on the rise.
Laws need to be changed or they need to be enforced.
There are some antiquated laws on the books. Times change and sometimes the laws need to chance with them. While I don’t think a lot of those that are not being enforced fall into this category, the fact remains that for a society to be stable you have to enforce some rules or change them. The result of laws not being enforced is people doing whatever they want without fear of consequence.
Massive homelessness=sanitation and hygiene nightmare
People with no way to make a living become homeless all too often. This leads to a lack of sanitation and hygiene. No screening for diseases or treatment before entry is not beneficial to anyone. People are seeing diseases in the USA that were long thought to be eradicated.
There are many reasons for homelessness in America. We could sit here all day and blame one group or another. There were vagrancy and loitering laws that were enforced in various ways at one time. These laws are largely ignored in many cities. I can sympathize with those that are homeless because they fell on hard times and have no family to lend a helping hand.
The opioid epidemic has led to more homelessness. Consider that some shelters and programs will not help anyone that tests positive for drugs. In my home county we have a program that is designed to provide housing, a job, and support to get people on their feet. It is a successful program but you have to be a resident of the county for 90 days and pass a drug screen. People that are severely addicted are not able to do that. Getting clean is hard and the side effects of withdrawal can even be fatal. That is scary to some. We could blame the addicts for not having self control or getting started in the first place but that does little to solve the problem we are facing today. The pharmaceutical companies and the doctors they employ have contributed an enormous amount to the homelessness problem.
The Cities So Far
This section is do show you the scenario in some of the cities that are experiencing the most suffering from a lack of laws being enforced and people getting the help they need because there is simply only so many resources to go around. When there is a large population of people that are taking and taking and not giving back to society, the pie gets smaller and smaller quite fast.
While I may have more to say about Seattle, it is because I have more prior knowledge of how it used to be and relatives outside of it that can offer perspective.
It is hard for me to hear about the decline of Seattle. I was born an hour and a half from Seattle and lived in that area until 1999. Seattle was the big city that we occasionally went to. School field trips in the 1st grade to the Pacific Science Center are something that I can still remember today. We even got to play in the park. I got to see the Space Needle and remember riding the elevator and being scared to look down. Seattle was a city that everyone was so proud of in Washington. Sure there were always people that preferred to stay out of the big city but most people agreed that Seattle was very clean and the crime was very low for a city that size, especially a seaport. You might see a small scribble of graffiti here and there but for the most part Seattle seemed pretty spotless.
Don’t get me wrong, drugs were always a part of Seattle but nothing compared to the level they are now. During the grunge music years heroin was a problem, but that wasn’t something you just found out in the suburbs with ease. It was there but not so in your face.
I still have family that live just down I-5 from Seattle and the problems of Seattle have definitely found a place a little over an hour up the road.
When I started writing this article, it was not long before I became more involved and wanted to do a little investigating and reaching out to those being affected in my home state. I am concerned for family that is still there and trying to raise very young children to be good and productive adults amidst the cycles of pain and chaos that a mere drive to work can put on display.
Below are photos taken on a 3 mile drive to work at a major Pacific Northwest department store chain.
This next series of photos is courtesy of the Facebook Group “Seattle Looks Like S*** and taken by concerned citizens that are working hard to find solutions to the conditions the Emerald City has fallen into over the last few years.
Seattle was once a model city that others strove to be like. Perhaps that is why the decline is so shocking and heartbreaking. This is not the Emerald City any longer where you can go down a clean street, visit Pike Place Market, take the kids to the Woodland Park Zoo, and maybe see a pod of Orca whales blowing in the bay. Now we have a cesspool of filth, fear, and suffering.
San Francisco, CA
My Dad had the chance to go through San Fransisco during the “Summer of Love”. He arrived there after going through hell in Vietnam, being lost starved, and surviving the TET offensive. He described it as beautiful and clean. This was a time when girls would greet you and put beads on your neck and flowers in your hair much like the famous song. They kissed his cheek and welcomed him home.
Now San Francisco is a city where there is actual interactive maps to warn people where all the piles of human excrement are so they can be avoided. Homeless tents are scattered throughout the city and it is a hygienic nightmare that is festering illnesses and despair.
Nearly 400 people have died on the streets of San Francisco since 2016 according to an article published in the San Francisco Examiner on February 21, 2019. The cause is a variety of reasons including unintentional overdose, exposure, natural causes, murder, and suicide. Those that died during this time had an alarming amount of drugs in their systems. Of those that passed, 47% had methamphetamine in their system while 45% had opioids at the time of autopsy.
This should not happen in a 1st world country. It is wrong, and it shows that we are ignoring a problem that will not go away until either something is done or enough people die that it goes away. Of course there is no guarantee that a lot of death will actually keep others from going down the same path if they have access to the tools of destruction.
Los Angeles, CA
The enormous amount of homeless “cities within a city” have resulted in a sanitation nightmare for cities and their residents. Would you want to live in a city where the sidewalks were shamelessly used as bathrooms? As early as 2016 there were over 2,000 homeless sharing a mere 9 bathrooms on Skid Row in LA. The homeless advocate Reverand Andy Bales lost his leg after it became infected with E. coli, streptococcus and staphylococcus that he picked up trying to help people on Skid Row in LA. Reverend Bales is diabetic and that made him more susceptible to infections.
Of course LA has been in the news a lot as it is deemed a sanctuary city. The problem is that resources are already so stretched that taking on more people is likely going to result in a situation that deteriorates at an unprecedented rate.
For those of us that have only been to a few of the smaller major cities of America, L.A. is hard to imagine because it is the largest city in the USA. There is such a high population density and stratification in society that it is already hard to manage.
It baffles me how you even manage to begin to sort through all the wants and needs of so many people and from so many backgrounds.
On March 20, 2019 the Atlanta Chief-of-Police announce that stores in Buckhead were out of luck if they called to report shoplifting. Reasons given were that the city is 300 officers short of what they need and that shoplifting calls take up too much officers time. There is an hour and a half of paperwork and then the time required to transport anyone arrested. Apparently other crime is high enough that they have to pick and choose.
So what are store owners and employees supposed to do?
Why they should still report it and get it “counted” according to the Chief-of-Police but “they should also consider hiring and off duty cop that can “make sure the culprit is made to pay for his crime”.
Wait. What? So they expect store owners to pay for private protection and enforcement from law enforcement offers while they are short staffed? Even if businesses could hire an off duty cop, there would not be enough to police all the stores that need help.
Flint has a lot of problems. Between a huge water quality crisis and lack of employment, folks are reaching their limit. Now the Washington, DC based The Centre for Public Safety Management is advising law enforcement to simply stop responding to some calls and limit any investigations to crimes where there is actual violence involved. Does this mean a woman that is being stalked should expect no police help until someone decides to escalate the situation to violence?
The carnage that is being allowed to continue in Chicago alone should be enough to get people to stand up and take notice. Chicago has been experiencing an unprecedented rate of homicide for a long time and while the situation is believed to be improving, it is impossible to ignore the high rate of shootings in Chicago and how law enforcement officers do not seem to be as plentiful as they should be.
The statistics pointing to a lower homicide rate are questionable considering how many reports of violence you see just glancing over the local Chicago television news sites.
Shootings are so prolific that it is impossible for law enforcement to keep up with investigations. One has to wonder what laws are not being enforced that are leading to such horrific waves of killing and violence.
Since 2015 there has been a strong trend of Baltimore police ignoring some of the violations that should have always been enforced. This change in attitude is largely attributed to the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a patrol car and the violence that followed. Although the crime rate was much higher, police reported seeing less crime overall and made fewer reports. The only thing that makes sense is that they started ignoring a lot of incidents that should have resulted in arrests and charges.
The homicide rate in Baltimore skyrocketed to a tragic 342 reported homicides in 2017. Shootings have gone up dramatically.
There is no end to this without some enforcement of current laws.
Running a gas station is a hard business. Being a hired clerk at a gas station is actually quite a dangerous job and the pay is on the lower end of the scale. Of course some gas stations are run entirely by one family that take various shifts. The profit margins are low on a lot of items. Most gas stations make most of their money on the goods and snacks sold inside the store. Gas is not a big money maker for gas stations to start with but in Appleton police have told gas station owners that they will not respond to calls they make when someone fills up their tank and takes off without paying.
Gas is not particularly high at the moment but with so much crime going on and people getting away with it for the most part, some are taking what they can get.
What makes this story worse is that law enforcement is going so far as to defend those that drive away. They justify not responding by saying that the majority of drive offs are “not crimes” and mostly credit card reader issues and “honest mistakes by drivers”
That sounds a lot like defending the culprit to me. The 24 gas stations in the area are advised that they will need to find their own ways to collect debts from anyone that fills and bolts.
Police in Akron are tired of answering security alarm calls so they have decided that if your alarm goes off, they need to have someone verify that it is real. Well now that basically means your security alarm is really not doing you much good. What if someone is being victimized and cannot verify? If they have one of the fancier security companies that can verify for them, then they may get some help, but it is going to increase response time. Granted, 98% of the security alarm calls are false, 2% are real.
The problem is that when you make this type of announcement you are telling the public that if they choose to break into a home with a security alarm, there is a decent chance they will have a lot of time to do what they want and get away with it. I can understand that police resources are limited and they are trying to make best use of their time but this type of announcement could be easily seen as an invitation to more burglaries and any violence that goes along with them.
Lack of law enforcement brings out the worst in people
When laws are not enforced, then those that enjoy breaking them are going to feel like they are untouchable. The attitude will be so what are you going to do about it? This allows criminals to take advantage of those that really cannot defend themselves from abuse. Grudges and old scores can come into play as people realize that they can get away with more.
For many years there have been areas of some cities and suburbs where the cops simply do not respond or if they do, they give it a few minutes in the hopes that gangs and criminal sects will just get it over with. They can always go in and clean the mess up later. There is a tendency for some to just lump everyone in an area like this into one category. What about all the kids and those stuck living in an area like that who have no control over what goes on and no support network when law enforcement chooses to not hear their cries?
The president recently announced that he was considering releasing those that cross the border and are being detained. His plan is to release them in cities that have declared themselves Sanctuary Cities. That sounds like a nightmare for everyone. Just sending people to cities and seeing what happens seems like asking for trouble. If people are released and have no resources, the safety net that is in place cannot sustain that many people. Regardless of how you feel about immigration, it seems like the end result is going to be hungry and hopeless people competing for resources and a resentful population. When people get really stressed and things start getting weird, they can do things and think things that they would not have dreamed of before.
Diseases we have not seen in the US in years are rearing their heads
When people have nowhere to go you get the problems, we are seeing in places like San Francisco where health care professionals are seeing diseases such as typhus for the first time in years. City workers are actually concerned for their health when they try to pick up.
We are facing a homeless population that is living in such unhygienic circumstances that we are seeing diseases that were declared eradicated. Some diseases most people have only heard of in historical accounts because we had them under control.
While it is easy to start pointing fingers and blaming anti-vaxxers and other groups, the truth is that diseases such of these often pop up during hard times when sanitation and hygiene are not maintained.
Some people will simply leave and the cities will deteriorate even further
People with the means to leave a bad situation will do so at some point if the option is still available to them. Sometimes waiting too long can lead to getting stuck where you are. Since those leaving are likely the ones that are not committing major crimes, the concentration of lawlessness will just get worse.
It is already happening and will get worse. The following migration from the city statistics are from 2010 to 2017 and courtesy of Business Investors Daily.
Chicago – 296,320 people
St. Louis -39,894 people
Flint, Mich. -22,658
El Paso, Texas -21,829
New York City -21,503
These numbers are high and are continuing to climb. Remember that some people moved to these cities during this time too so this net loss could be a lot of people that called these cities home for a very long time. When you start losing a lot of the people that have contributed a lot to the economy by investing a lot of their lives in a city, you are losing a lot. What is left is people that lack the opportunity to leave, those that cannot bear to abandon the city they grew up in, and the criminal and drug addicted populations.
Being in a position where you have to hire private protection and security personnel to protect your home and business from basic crimes is very similar to business as usual in an undeveloped or third world country. This is a major gateway to organized crime protection rings and exploitation of people.
Everyone pays taxes on some level. Income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, ect are all ways that you pay for services regardless of political inclination. Left, right, middle, unaffiliated, we all suffer because we are paying out and not getting what we paid for. There is no refund policy.
The lack of laws being enforced will be paid by all of us and have an impact on the future of our descendants.
When there is a lack of hygiene and sanitation, the rate of disease and illness goes up. These health care costs are a burden on us all and then there is the fact that when people are sick, they cannot work or contribute as much to society.
Insurance costs will go up
When an area is considered high risk or a lot of claims for vandalism, theft, and damage, occur, rates will go up to pay for it. Once rates go up, they rarely go down much unless you get lucky or conditions improve a lot.
Property values will go down
Remember how so many people got stuck owing more than what their home and property was worth during the Great Recession? Well, the problems in the cities and urban areas of America could result in a situation where people are not able to sell out for what they paid. No one wants to buy your property when there are needle exchanges in the neighborhood, no guarantee of a police response, and garbage everywhere. The mass migration from American cities also means more houses on the market so there is no demand to keep prices remotely stable.
The state of cities and the desperate situations so many Americans are in is even affecting the availability of food even if you have the money.
The lawlessness in the cities contributes to food deserts because grocery store chains will not even consider opening a store in an area that they feel they will struggle to make a profit in. High-crime areas lead to grocery stores closing in some cases because the rate of shoplifting is so high that stores lose money.
This is when there is very little to no access to a grocery store selling what is needed for a healthy diet. In these areas, gas stations, convenience stores, and dollar stores are what people use for a large portion of their grocery and household items. Those that are lucky have a dollar store whereas others find themselves paying for highly marked up items at grocery and convenience stores.
What you can do if you live in or near a city to stay healthy and safe
I can honestly say that I advised my relative near Seattle to move somewhere far from any cities in the area and to not buy a house in an area that seems to be headed toward very high crime. This person is young and has a family. I know it is not realistic or possible for some to leave the cities they are in. I don’t like to write articles that just give reports on what is going on with no solutions. It pays to be aware but folks need to know what they can do to get through as best they can.
Practice good situational awareness and travel around cities with someone else if possible
Don’t have your nose stuck in your phone or headphones on listening to music. Sorry but under the circumstances I don’t think this is a safe thing to do in some cities. Always let someone know where you are going and when you can be expected to return.
Don’t let children without supervision
Kids often mean well but that can lead to them being taken advantage of. People on high-powered drugs are in a different world and in that world, your kid may be a pawn to them. My close relative in Washington told me she just stepped out of her car and locked the door with her two kids in it so she could take a call and had someone peeking in at them in no time at all. This person was clearly not in their right mind and on drugs. She literally cannot step outside her car for a few minutes to take a phone call before someone is seeing what they can steal.
Avoid carrying a lot of cash or valuables on you. Now is not the time to wear the family jewels. Consider dressing down rather than up so you don’t look as well off.
Limit travel and socializing at night
While going out on the town is not my thing, I understand why it is nice for some folks to get out and let loose a little or socialize on the weekends or at night. In cities where laws are not being enforced, it is not safe to be out on the streets at night, especially if you are a woman. Sorry but ladies are seen as easy targets. If you plan on going out, then have a safe plan to have good transportation to and from an even and travel with another person.
Reinforce the security of your home or apartment as much as possible.
There are more ways than you might realize to add some security to an urban apartment or home regardless if you are at home or not. Here are a few suggestions
- Reinforce doors and replace wooden doors with those made with steel. It may be hard to replace a door if you live in an apartment but if you get permission, it may be worth the expense. There are also kits that can make a door harder to kick in regardless of the materials it is made from.
- Use window film on all windows. Window film prevents glass from shattering into dangerous shards and makes it harder for thieves to get through so you have more time to respond and keep safe. My article on window film includes a few suggestions and additional info.
- Consider a security camera system that sends alerts to your phone. Yes I know that the Nest system and others are very “Big Brother” and kind of creepy but so is having a bunch of lawlessness in your city. There are also many other camera options out there.
- Purchase alarms that can be set and will go off if a window or door is breached.
Consider adding a shotgun to your home or apartment
A shotgun is good for urban environments because you can get shells that take care of business at close range but will not readily travel to neighboring apartments. A good Mossberg Maverick 12g is around $200. Consider that just the sound of a shotgun being pumped is enough to deter a lot of foes. A shotgun is easy to learn how to use even if you have absolutely no prior firearms experience. Even if you don’t like the idea of handguns or rifles like the AK-47 or AR-15, consider a shotgun for the safety of you and your family if the SHTF in your city.
Criminals will have access to guns if they want them so I think you should have a way to meet that force and survive even if you are not into guns normally.
Wear thick close toed shoes and socks when walking the streets
Want to know what happens when you step on a hidden needle tip a junkie through down? Well the doctor will wash your feet in antiseptic and tell you that you need to get tested for STDs and Hepatitis every 6 months indefinitely. That is what they told a relative of mine when she stepped on one sticking out of the concrete steps of a house a friend had recently rented. The doctor told her some things can remain dormant and reappear at anytime. I am no health expert but that is what she was told.
Have enough supplies to be able to shelter in place for a few days or even a week if there is civil unrest
Staying put means staying out of trouble a lot of the time. It is very easy to get caught up in something that you want no part of.
Know how to move around if you absolutely have to in times of civil unrest
I wrote an article that I think is a good additional read to this post. There is a lot to think about when it comes to moving around during times of civil unrest. This subject alone requires a lengthy article and you will find that in the link below.
Practice good hygiene habits and wash more regularly
You know how you are told that you should wash your hands often? Well you need to make sure to not skip those showers. If you interact a lot in a city or live in one of the cities I have discussed in this post then I recommend showering and laundering your clothes often. While I am all about getting an extra day out of a pair of pants or a shirt living out on 11 acres in the country, if I was in the city I would make a point to put on clean clothes each day and wash clothes after a single use.
Showering daily after you come into your home is another good idea. Bacteria and germs on your skin can enter a very small cut and cause trouble. While you have easy access to a hot shower and soap, use them daily.
Avoid touching and rubbing your eyes or your nose as they are some of the easier spots for bacteria and viruses to enter your body,
Keep all scratches and wounds treated and also covered when you go out in public.
Seek medical attention immediately if you see signs of any major infection or illness.
There is hope. Never forget that.
We can change things if we want to do it. I think that unless something happens soon that people will start just start taking the law into their own hands. We can stop things from reaching that level of disruption but only if people take a stand and get those out of office that are telling law enforcement to not enforce the laws that are on the books.
The Rhode Island Program
One program that has a proven track record of success was featured in the documentary “Seattle Is Dying”. It is a program ran through the prison system but let’s be honest, some people need every aspect of their life controlled if they actually want to kick the habit. Many of them say just as much. You hear people plainly state that they thanked the arresting officer when they finally reached the bottom.
In Rhode Island that is happening. In fact they have an outstanding rate of more than 90% of people fulfilling obligations and kicking the destructive habits and substances that plague their existence.
The other less effective solutions
The programs of clean needle exchanges, Narcan overdose medication, ect. may seem like they are an answer and I believe that those that administer them have overall good intentions but I think that at this point they are naive to believe it is a sustainable way to deal with the drug epidemic.
Keeping people alive and in a constant state of suffering is not an end solution. I am afraid in the long term that for many the choice is treatment and kicking the habit or death. At some point the money and programs are not going to be there to keep people going that overdose 5-20 times over a few years.
I think that although it is a hard reality to face, we need to realize that there are some people that even with all the help in the world, do not care if they live or die or how any of that effects others. These people were more hidden from us in the past but now we see them on the streets of any town and it is not just the big cities.
A lot of smaller towns have a very limited budget for law enforcement. They never had to deal with crime and drugs on the level they have in recent times. Between lack of funds and the rise in crime, some smaller towns and counties have simply told citizens that they are responsible for their own security and safety. A sheriff in Kentucky simply told residents that he could not expect his officers to come in when they would not be paid.
While the lack of enforcement can be tied to a lack of funding, it should never be forgotten that some of the problem is definitely a rise in calls. Even if the police force could handle calls in the past and have enough money to keep the same size force, they are often now in a position of not having funds for extra officers to deal with the issues their communities are facing.
It is not just cities that are not enforcing the law.
Some of you have read about the sheriffs out in Washington State that have refused to enforce any gun control measures. If you have not, then I recommend you read this in-depth article over at my friend Daisy Luther’s site. She has done an excellent job covering this issue as it unfolds. While I can understand supporting the 2nd Amendment, the fact remains that law enforcement is taking a stand and saying they are fine with not enforcing laws they don’t agree with.
The lack of laws being enforced points towards a need to change them or start enforcing them. People will not take laws and rules seriously if they look around and see that everyone is getting away with more and more. Over time this behavior will lead to people taking the law into their own hands and possibly waves of violence that last for far longer than one might expect.
The solution to the homelessness issue involves investing a huge amount of resources into in patient drug rehabilitation programs and possibly giving up on those that refuse to get clean. Some people do not want to be helped and this only becomes apparent after rehabilitative efforts fail multiple times. Unfortunately there are not enough resources to devote to those that refuge to take the help and lead healthy and productive lives.
Enabling bad behaviors is not an end solution. We can do better than this as a country. The pain and suffering needs to stop and the first step towards that is to not just ignore the problem. While some officials and politicians seems to be turning a blind eye, the more people stand up and take notice the better.
I want to live in a country where people don’t look 50 at the age of 35 because of substance abuse. I want younger people to be able to have friends and not feel like they cannot socialize at all because everyone is so messed up.
People can joke about zombies and watch all those popular shows about fighting them but I think they need to stop watching that for a minute and sheer horror of what has happened to us as a nation and the consequences that the future generations will have to deal with. Sometimes I think those shows were put on the air to help dehumanize people. If you see someone as “zombified” it is far easier to ignore their pain and suffering.
This is not a tv show. People can be helped in many cases and lead good lives. The problem is how to stop the cause and treat those that are suffering so we can all be stronger in the future.
Samantha Biggers can be reached at email@example.com