Preventing the next Botham Jean

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

I suspect there are very few people who haven't heard of the murder of Botham Jean. If you're one of the few who is unfamiliar with the situation, let me update you. Botham was a young man who was sitting in his apartment watching TV when police officer Amber Guyger, mistaking his apartment for hers, enters Botham's apartment and proceeded to shoot him dead.

Whenever I go into apartment buildings with multiple levels, I always think about Botham Jean. I know firsthand about the mind playing tricks. I can never forget the day my mind had me believing I was headed westbound even though the signs specifically said I was headed eastbound. Aside from the mind playing tricks, there is also the reality of what apartment complexes can do to prevent a similar situation from ever happening again.

One would think a lot of apartment buildings, after that horrific murder, would be doing everything they could to help prevent a similar situation from ever happening under their roof. However, as much as I would like to think that apartment building management teams care about the situation, they don't. Many apartment buildings in Chicago, do not have the floor numbers readily visible when you get off the elevator. 

Even worse, is the fact that a plethora of buildings don't even have signs indicating the apartment numbers. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have gone in the wrong direction looking for an apartment number only to have it in the other wing. I always think of how much precious time may be wasted in an emergency if the fire department, for example, can't find the apartment because they headed in the wrong direction.

If an ordinance exists that addresses this issue, it is being ignored by a majority of elevator apartment buildings. And if the ordinance doesn't exist, we need one mandating that every floor have a directional sign indicating the location of the apartment numbers. The floor number should automatically be part of that placard. We can therefore prevent the next Botham Jean from taking place.

Another ordinance that needs to be enforced, or created if it doesn't exist, is mandating that folks remove all the leaves that fall on the sidewalk and onto their property. I slipped off a porch the other day because of the combination of snow, leaves, and ice. Fortunately, I didn't take as bad a fall as I could have, but I did fall. 

I do not understand why the North Side in particular has leaves piled up, inches deep. During the massive rainstorms we had, I'm sure the water couldn't get down to the sewers because of those leaves. If people are told to shovel snow, they also need to be told to rake leaves! Wet leaves are dangerous. They create a slippery environment and if there is an irregular sidewalk, it hides the fact. 

Leaves also become an excuse for people to let their dogs poop on the sidewalk and create the perfect cover to hide it. With all the emphasis on safety, I don't know why leaves being picked up is ignored. 

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