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We can rid our town

There is no doubt the good guys are going to win the war on crime in Sunnyside.

The reason is simple. The vast majority of the young American-Hispanic population is disgusted with the gangs and willing to work with the police.

Last week I conducted more than a dozen interviews with young Americans of Hispanic origin. At the hardware store, at the convenience store at 3 a.m. while making my rounds of the mobile home park, at the fast food places and especially in the mobile homes adjoining South Hill Park.

It is distressing to hear them talk about their experiences: "They took $4,000 worth of my stuff. They got even more from the man next door. They busted out the window on my car another time." Remember, these are mostly minimum wage people without insurance.

The good news is they are willing to call the police. Because of these calls, two sets of burglars were arrested this month.

There is a remarkable comparison in this war on crime to the war against terrorism. All reports say the U.S. troops make great progress when the local cooperate, especially in identifying the Taliban.

The older population might be intimidated by the gangs. Example, my maintenance man said he wouldn't wire up fences the gangs cut because he feared they would identify his truck and smash the windows.

So I did it myself. But I soon had plenty of help. Young people pitching in without fear. So many that we got a crew of eight and spent two days pulling out the slats that were tagged on the city side of South Hill Park. This is a real insult to the gangs. Truck loads of tagged slats hauled to the dump.

We wired the holes in the fences and installed seven powerful flood lights to cover the most frequent areas of transit by the gangs.

South Hill Park seems to be a safe haven for gangs. One young man says when they chase intruders they always run into South Hill Park.

The gangs are holed up in the neighboring Village Park, scene of frequent gunshot reports, and the Carnation District. They transit through our private property (despite signs and fences and security cameras) to South Hill Park.

The tragedy is that the Carnation District once had a thriving Block Watch organization and was mostly crime-free. The man who organized the Block Watch moved and eventually the gangs took over.

If enough residents will call Sunnyside Police dispatch at 836-6200, the gangs will soon be gone.

/s/ Wayne Overland, Sunnyside

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