The Sunday before last the weather was nice and sunny. About three o’clock in the afternoon, many were leaving church and heading home. While they stood on the corner of Lake and Central waiting for a bus, shots were fired from a moving car heading north on Central Avenue. Everyone scrambled for cover.

Incidents like this make you wonder: Are the idiots now in charge of Austin? Is it unsafe for a person to stand or walk down a major street like Central Avenue in broad daylight?

But this was just a precursor to what is to come if the police, the elected officials, the ministers, community leaders and parents simply take a wait-and-see attitude.

The Austin community must be pro-active in its ongoing effort to reduce crime. Residents and the police need to take the current cooperative spirit that exists to engage in a series of activities designed to prevent crime from escalating this summer. Police Superintendent Cline should immediately send down the order that police officers in Austin must step up their enforcement of the so-called “minor crimes.”

Cars on Central and other major streets should be stopped, ostensibly to check for seat belt violations, while at the same time making certain that individuals are not driving with drugs and weapons in their vehicles. Police must also pull over cars containing three or more young men with hats tilted to the side and music blaring, while persons speeding, illegally parked, or turning without using the appropriate signals ought to all be ticketed.

Along with attacking the various traffic violations, police officers should not be afraid to utilize profiling as a means of preventing crime from actually occurring in Austin. White persons walking up and down North Avenue are more than likely looking for drug sales; two or more black men on a side street with hoods on their heads in the summer are most likely seeking to burglarize someone’s home. A single male standing near an alley or an abandoned building could very well be seeking to rape some unsuspecting woman. Individuals driving in Cadillac Escalades and other expensive cars are probably drug dealers. The police have to indicate to all of these individuals that Austin is not the place for their unsavory activities.

However, arresting and ticketing people will not be enough. Every church in Austin needs to take time out to do missionary work in the community. Young people have to be brought into the church by the thousands and engaged in bible study and other programs that will teach proper moral values and civilized behavior.

While at home, Austin’s young should be taught the “value of the belt” and the discipline that hard work teaches a person. During the Austin Labor of Love, volunteers have gone into homes that needed painting or repairing and found able-bodied individuals living there. But they would not pick up a broom or a paintbrush. Austin parents have to start administering some “tough love” to their children, right now!

This work ethic needs to be supported by Austin’s local politicians who are supposed to provide funding for summer work programs. They also should encourage businesses in the area to employ and teach young persons good work practices.

Yes, it is government’s responsibility to give people hope for a better life without crime. The City of Chicago’s summer jobs program is now taking applications. Persons between the ages of 14 and 21 may apply for jobs online at their school, the local library and the Eyes On Austin Job Center. The deadline for applying is April 30, 2005. Every Austin young person should be required to apply.

Finally, all parents and ministers should call aldermen Carothers, Mitts and Smith as well as Congressman Danny Davis and your legislative leaders to demand they make certain Austin students obtain their share of the summer jobs. These same elected officials must be required to account for the fact that other communities receive millions of dollars in assistance for job development, while Austin obtains a mere pittance.