Yesterday, I was shocked and extremely disappointed to read about comments made by the newest member of our city's police board, Ms. Ruby Campbell. At her first meeting on Monday, the Downtown BIA presented a series of very real and alarming concerns from downtown business owners about the rapid deterioration of public safety in and around Columbia Street. Business owners are concerned for the safety of their employees, customers and themselves, having experienced repeated shoplifting, vandalism and, worst of all, continued harassment.
Rather than listening to these business owners and recognizing that they have legitimate concerns, Ms. Campbell's takeaway was that some of the language used by frightened business owners made her feel "uncomfortable." I understand this was Ms. Campbell's first meeting and perhaps she has a learning curve ahead of her, but her comment left me absolutely gobsmacked.
I believe it's shameful for these concerns to be dismissed in such a manner. Ms. Campbell, please put yourself in the shoes of these business owners, employees and customers who are legitimately fearful for their safety and asking for your help. Please educate yourself on what they're experiencing -- perhaps shadow one of them for a day from open to close to see what they have to deal with.
I sincerely hope that Ms. Campbell will do the right thing – apologize to downtown business owners and pledge to do better moving forward.