Last weekend, a neighbor across the alley had a party so loud that my other neighbors and I couldn’t sleep. I found out that two neighbors and I collectively called 911 five times between 10:30 p.m. and 3 a.m., when I was finally told that an officer had not been available to check it out. I understand that violent crime has to be a priority, but when such an obvious disturbance affects the neighborhood, including the elderly, sick, children and infants living here, how can we get better service?

Let me start by apologizing that you had this experience. With specific dates and times, I could give you specific answers, but since those aren’t in this letter, I will discuss in general some of the things that occur on these types of complaints.

A loud party is a “breach of the peace,” which means that an officer needs a complaining witness in order to enforce a loud music complaint. Sometimes citizens will call 911 and tell the operator that since it involves a neighbor, they would rather not get involved.

In cases like this, an officer can go to a location and ask that music be turned down, but would not be able to issue a citation. I have had cases like this where the officers had gone by a location, but did not know who had called and could not follow-up with anyone.

If your neighbors have parties on a recurring basis, you could contact your individual patrol division. In instances like this, beat officers may be able to proactively address these problems.

In a case where multiple calls to the same location appear to have gone unanswered, you could ask the 911 clerk to connect you with a police supervisor who could be sure the call is being handled appropriately or explain in detail what is happening on your calls.

Unfortunately, there are times when peak demand will require us to prioritize our calls. I understand that a loud party is aggravating, especially if it is affecting young children or the elderly. I hope that your neighbors are more considerate in the future.

With the holiday season upon us, stores will be on the lookout for shoplifters. What do residents need to be looking out for this time of year?

Here are some tips for a safe and happy holiday season:

If you’re out for the evening …

• Turn on lights and a radio or the television so it appears that someone is home.

• Lock all doors and windows while you’re out, even if you’ll be gone for just a few minutes.

• Do not place packages or gifts near windows or in other high-visibility sites. If a stranger comes to the door …

• Stay alert to suspicious-looking couriers delivering packages to you or your neighbors.

• Many con artists take advantage of holiday generosity by going door-to-door. Ask for identification and get specifics as to where and how the donations will be spent and used.

• If you feel uncomfortable, just say “no thank you” and shut the door.

If you’re at home …

• Turn on outside lights to deter burglars.

• Report any suspicious behavior to the police or local community watch groups.

• Make sure your homeowners (or renters) insurance is up-to-date and everything is inventoried properly.

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