Consider this scenario: It’s 3 AM on a Sunday morning/Saturday night, whichever you want to call it. You’re walking home, going north on Second, approaching Union. You see a guy crossing the street, approaching people, crossing back, changing direction, looking people over good, not appearing to have any destination in particular.
What could this guy be up to? Here are the possibilities that run through my mind:
1) He’s panhandling, which is illegal after dark;
2) He’s trying to get people to pay for something illegal, such as drugs or a hooker;
3) He’s sizing people up, seeing who might be a good target to rob if they turn down a dark alley;
4) He’s legitimately lost and/or in need of assistance.
In the last case, he would be delighted to talk to a police officer if one were to roll up to him. In the other three cases, of course, he definitely would NOT be interested in interaction with a police officer.
But the thing is, you see these guys on the streets ALL THE TIME in the wee hours, doing exactly the kind of activity I described above, because the police DON’T roll up and ask them what they’re doing, where they’re going.
In my opinion, doubling back across streets several times and approaching people and casing people out qualifies as “suspicious activity.” Then again, I haven’t been through the police academy so I don’t know the official definition. But it sure seems suspicious to me. It’s not that the cops necessarily have to arrest these guys for anything; just roll up to them and say hello. Nothing wrong with saying hello to one of your town’s citizens, after all. Maybe drive by a couple of times in the 10 minutes following, to communicate, “I’m watching you.” If the cops did that, I promise you, these guys wouldn’t find Downtown Memphis such a hospitable place to conduct their activities, and they’d move on.
It makes my blood boil that Memphis is so permissive of this kind of behavior. I’m about to go home to Little Rock for Christmas, and I can tell you, you never see that kind of activity on the streets of Downtown Little Rock.
I had one of these guys look me over good last night as I walked home from Beale Street. I made it home safe and sound but this morning I learned that one of my neighbors, who had also been on Beale Street, had been mugged walking home.
The police need to be proactive.