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Dear PoP

Dear PoP,

I hate to bring up another downer sort of question. But at what point do you call the cops if 5-6 guys are near your house yelling at each other and not for fun? Or do you not call police because it will be very obvious who called them? I elected to call 311 and the cops showed up within 5 minutes which was great. But then they left and the guys are pissed and walk by your house cursing, throwing bottles etc. (because you are dumb enough to sit on the porch and thought you have time to get back in house before the cops left). In my time living here, I’ve seen lots of things and never called the cops because I was afraid to. Today I did, and I think I am regretting it. Advice, opinions, experiences?


Dear Regrets,

You absolutely did the right thing. I would only add one caveat. If you happen to know these guys, it might be worthwhile trying to talk to them in a friendly way to see if they can keep the noise down first. If you think it is going to turn violent then of course do not intervene. It is a tough call whether or not you should talk to them if you don’t know them. It may be a bit awkward if you don’t know them and if you don’t feel comfortable approaching them then certainly call 311.

I think the important thing to note here is that you are just as much a part of this community as anyone else. As such, you have a right to live comfortably in a peaceful environment. If the yelling persisted past 10 or 15 minutes you are certainly within your right to call 311. Who knows what the argument is about. It could possibly turn violent. As for sitting on your porch afterwards, I do not think that was dumb at all. You should not, must not, feel like a prisoner in your own home. You are part of the neighborhood and have the absolute right to enjoy a late Summer’s eve on your porch. I don’t see how they could know it was you. You will have plausible deniability.

Of course if you feel unsafe, then I would go inside and call 311 again particularly if bottles are being thrown. But if it is not a persistent problem sometimes it is better to just let things blow over. I sometimes hear yelling when I’m in my house. On the occasions that I have experienced it, I have known the “yellers”, so I felt comfortable approaching them nicely and asking them to keep it down. I think something else to keep in mind is the time of any disruption. If it is at 8pm you may want to give a little more leeway than if it was occurring at 2am. Again, I think you did the right thing. I admire the fact that you didn’t just accept it. But again each circumstance is unique and does not necessarily require the same efforts. Certainly with any drug dealing or potential violence we must not hesitate to call 311. Stay strong.

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