Stapleton Mom’s PC Descriptions of Suspicious Behavior Prove Unhelpful

burglarThe Stapleton Mom’s Yahoo Group works hard to be on the front line of crime prevention. Members are vigilant about posting strange behavior or things that just don’t seem right so that others in the neighborhood keep their heads up. In years past, members would do their best to create a description of an individual or an event that seemed out of place in Stapleton. Some of these descriptions gained the PC ire of other members. “I didn’t like people being described as ‘Hispanic,’” said Yahoo Group member Kristin Marie. “The word ‘Hispanic’ just has so many negative connotations. I’m really not that comfortable saying it to you.”

The PC police didn’t just stop at ethnicity. Age, gender, height and weight suddenly became off-limits as well. “Just because they were breaking into a garage, does not necessarily mean it is a man,” said another Mom’s member, Dianne Miller. “We have to be a little blinder when it comes to crime, or even thinking something is a crime. Maybe that person was fixing the garage at 3AM. We just don’t know. All some of us are asking is to not report anything unless you are absolutely sure a crime is being committed, and if you can get a photo of the perpetrator instead of a description, that would be great.”

The PC police on Stapleton Moms have certainly done their part. Crime reports on Stapleton Moms have decreased about 60%, which to Marie, is a good thing. “It’s nice to not see people reporting suspicious behavior and attaching it to descriptions of people and places,” said Marie. “That’s just not the kind of community we want to live in.” For others, the lack of reports has been negative. “Well, crime has increased about 40% since this new unofficial policy was launched,” said Moms member Cindy Stone. “And when people do report things, they simply aren’t that helpful.” In fact, a recent description read, “Person with clothes in some neighborhood alley, may or may not be trying to get into gates to take items from owners, but may also be there to fix sprinklers.”

Police Chief Gerald Whitman encourages residents to give the best descriptions as possible to neighbors. “I know we live in a PC world,” says Whitman. “But you are not asking your neighbors to arrest anyone. You’re asking them to be aware of their environment. The best way to do this is to be as descriptive as possible.” Chief Whitman offers the same advice for residents if they call the police. “Please, by all means, speak candidly. We need the best description possible. Just give it to us straight.”

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One response to “Stapleton Mom’s PC Descriptions of Suspicious Behavior Prove Unhelpful”

  1. Margret Dugan

    I am curious why moms would find the use of Hispanic or Latino/a inappropriate for a general description of an unknown person’s appearance.

    Hispanic and Latino/a are ethnic descriptions of the characteristics of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.

    The difference between Latino/a and Hispanic:

    Hispanic describes cultures or countries that were once under Spanish rule (Mexico, Central America, and most South America where Spanish is the primary language).

    Latino generally refers to countries (or cultures) that were once under Roman rule. This includes Italy, France, Spain, etc. Brazilians are considered to be Latino, but are not considered to be Hispanic.

    It is important to understand that the definition of Hispanic and Latino/a varies widely depending upon the source you use. Some say that “Hispanic” refers to race, but this is not true. The U.S. government specifically distinguishes Hispanic and Latino/a as terms to define regions of origin and not a person’s race.

    If one does not know the country of origin of an individual either term is acceptable. However, it should be noted that most (75% according to Pew Hispanic Foundation’s research) individuals from either ethnic background do not self-identify as Hispanic or Latino/a; choosing instead to identify him or herself as being from their country of origin.

    What may be a more useful consideration is what not to call someone who may fall into one of the two ethnic categories.

    An aside: The best way to stop crime is to prevent people from becoming criminals.The second best way, IMHO, is to prevent the crime before it happens.

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