Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
And that’s no comment on this weekend’s fatal shooting of one Riverdale resident by another. That matter, the first murder in our community that I know of, is in the capable hands of the Scott County Sheriff’s department. There’s also plenty of news coverage (KWQC-TV | WQAD-TV | Quad-City Times), so there’s no need here to go into the details surrounding the chain of events.
But a recent comment on one of the City’s news stories summed up the feeling of concern I’ve heard from a number of residents:
“It saddens me to hear about the shooting-murder in Riverdale. The only shooting i remember was my dad shot and killed a rabid skunk in Rex Concannon’s driveway when dad was town marshal! We are truly living in the end days, of no respect for life! God help us all!”
– Dennis Speth
So, what can be done to address the fear and concern in our community that serves as a kind of “emotional hangover” from the event itself?
Things we can do to make Riverdale a more secure community
We’ve come a long way from the days when running the stop sign at the top of Manor Drive, chasing teenagers out of our parks after dark or dispatching the occasional rabid skunk were our most pressing problems. Riverdale is in the unusual position of being a very small city in the middle of a relatively large metropolitan community.
It can be the best of both worlds … and sometimes, the worst of both.
Challenges facing law enforcement and public safety officials are different when you talk about large communities and small towns. And somehow, Riverdale needs to manage a path between the two.
But in my research, the answers I’ve found all seem to point to finding ways for citizens to engage more directly with law enforcement and with each other as a key to creating a safer community. In Riverdale, we rely on the Scott County Sheriff’s office to provide support when crimes occur. Bettendorf PD may be available to respond to an urgent request (as they did last weekend), but Riverdale is in the jurisdiction of the county sheriff.
If fire or a medical emergency occurs in our city, we have a great, volunteer fire department that is able to respond. But in many cases, they’ll show up along with the Bettendorf Fire Department since the two departments work so closely together (it often works the same way for Bettendorf fires).
So how do we engage with these professionals (and highly skilled volunteers)? When it comes to finding ways to help communities connect with their public safety personnel, some of the ideas I’ve discovered include:
• Increasing the effectiveness of neighborhood watch programs by capitalizing on activities that naturally occur in the community – like piggybacking on existing community walking groups or establishing a “Dog Walker Watch” program.
• Establish a “Coffee with a Cop” program to help individual officers connect with members of the community.
• Hold a “Coffee, Cars and Cops” annual car show featuring new and classic public safety vehicles.
Another key factor is finding more ways for neighbors to know their neighbors and be aware when tough domestic situations arise. By knowing and responding to a neighbor in need, it’s possible we (as a community) could be helping reduce the possibility of that situation spiraling into violence. It’s not a guaranteed answer, but an act of kindness, compassion and love never hurts.
Finally, knowing what kinds of resources are available to residents in need of financial, legal or mental help assistance is key. I’m working on pulling together information from the county and other resources at the City’s disposal who might be able to provide assistance in each of these areas and hope to add that information to this website in the coming months.
That being said, any thoughts or advice you might be able to share are more than welcome. Please leave your comments below.
Thanks to you all.