We Have No Delusions – We Can All Promote Positive Change
By Shawn Meehan
In January of 2015 we purchased a condo unit in Salem’s “Point. We saw the purchase of the condo in the “Point” as an opportunity to own property in the area as opposed to getting into another rental situation.
We were encouraged by the Mayor’s “Vision and Action Plan” for the “Point” but we had no delusions as to the challenges people faced in this particular neighborhood. During our small barbecues we found ourselves feeding hungry kids. However, we did mistakenly believe that the safeguards a condo association offered would insulate us from some of the existing problems in the neighborhood, at least on our own property and within our own living space.
Immediately, we began having issues with the tenants of the absentee landlords in our very own condo building. We repeatedly notified a unit owner about loud music and eventually resorted to contacting the police. Police response was lackluster, unsympathetic and sometimes even hostile. When officers finally took enforcement action, we were retaliated upon and our car was vandalized.
While we were installing cameras, the renters of the absentee landlords were visibly upset. We also learned that the absentee landlords were outraged that we took measures to protect ourselves without their consent despite the fact they were an integral part of the problem and refused to help.
Preceding the installation of the cameras, we watched tenants and their guests engage in vandalism, public intoxication, arguments, child welfare issues and physical altercations on the condo property. Early on we saw behavior that led us to believe there may be drug activity. All of the aforementioned were reported to the police and to the unit owners of the tenants responsible for the behaviors. During the entire 1-year period, enforcement action was only ever taken in one instance.
The morning after the cameras were installed we awoke to find that an egg had been tossed onto our car from the condo unit where we repeatedly hear music permeating through our walls. Neither the police nor the absentee landlord took corrective action concerning this tenants behavior.
While reviewing video footage from the cameras three weeks they were installed, we stumbled upon a drug transaction in our condo parking lot. Then we went back in time and reviewed more footage and saw more public drug deals. Our suspicions and previously reported observations to absentee landlords and police and were now confirmed.
We then provided the police with videos of public drug transactions as well as a wealth of other criminal intelligence. This is not our opinion; law enforcement officials corroborated it.
We could go on about poor communication and missteps by law enforcement that took place over the following 5 weeks after it was first reported but for the sake of time we will simply state that we felt this matter was not given the attention it warranted from the outset.
Not all of our interactions with the police were negative, but at least half of our contacts with law enforcement and public officials left us feeling frustrated and abandoned. There seems to be this ill conceived notion that if one criticizes their government, in this case local law enforcement which is in fact our government, then they are somehow “unpatriotic” and worthy of scorn for doing so.
We found this out first hand when we contacted a State Representative to express our concern over how the matter was being handled. A bitter member of the Salem police department called us to express his disgust that we dared go to a public official and “complain.” The supervisor in question told us he had officers who had not slept in 24hrs. We were berated because we were perceived as being unsympathetic towards law enforcement officers who freely chose their occupation.
Unwilling to listen to any more excuses when our safety was at risk, we sought another course by exposing the persons involved by reaching out to the media and creating a Facebook blog; Crime and Corruption in Salem’s “Point” MA.
“Light is the best disinfectant.” Hopefully by exposing these dealers and the greedy landlords responsible for contributing to the urban decay that is prevalent in Salem’s “Point,” we can all promote positive change.