Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hometown Blues

As some of you know, i'm from a small town (what used to be small. The population is now at 26000! Dang!) just north of Palm Springs called Desert Hot Springs.
I lived on the same street, in the same house, until 3 days after I turned 18 and left for college.
My parents sold that house on Ramona Ave. and moved to the outskirts of town by the country club.
Anyway, I loved growing up there.
Despite the surrounding valley's opinion of us, our horrible reputation for drugs, gangs, etc, the fact I wasn't allowed to even cross the street and go to the park, and that my neighbors house and cars got broken into frequently (our house was broken into twice), I LOVED my hometown!
I grew up with the same people my whole life, I was never really scared to go for a walk, and up until the end of high school, I was never seriously offered drugs or alcohol or anything.
However, I did notice as my life flew by that the town was getting worse.
After our house was robbed the second time (the first time we were broken into, the cops caught the guy in the house so nothing was stolen ) my parents decided they needed to move.
And move they did, thankfully.
Although it hurt me a lot for them to leave that house (I lived there longer than I knew my own little sister!), it was for the best and I can see why now.

Yesterday, near 700 law enforcement officers took hold of my hometown of DHS early in the morning, rammed down doors, and made over 120 arrests.
They seized over 50 firearms, tons of meth and marijuana, and a whole load of gang members.
A lot it went down about 5 minutes away from the house I grew up in.
Some of it went down on the street right next door.
The raids weren't too violent, no shots were fired, and most of the citizens didn't notice anything was going on, apart from the occasional loud booms from the flash-bangs and battering rams.
The whole experience wasn't scary or out of control, but I suppose this all hit me so hard because I never really realized just how bad the city had gotten.
Sure, we had the largest crime rate per capita in Southern California with populations less than 100,000.
Sure we had meth labs on every corner and half the students at school smelled like weed.
But until recently, with three murders in the past month, it never phased me.

Right now, I can't even express how much my city needed these raids.
They had 450 gang members as targets to arrest and got 120 of them.
That may not sound like a lot, but you have to start eating away at the plague somehow.
The new DA was the one who organized it all, with over 45 different organizations there including local police, police from as far away as Banning and Rialto, SWAT, ICE, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies.
It reminds me of The Dark Knight.
A new DA, the true hero of Gotham, ridding the town of it's criminals, without turning into two-face and all.
I just can't wait to see how everything keeps progressing.
Hopefully soon, we can stop being called "desperate hot springs" "desolate hot springs" " the other side of the freeway" and other negative names, and just be the town I love.
Or, well, even better.

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