For five decades, James “Jack Rabbit” Jackson has been a fixture in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood on the city’s east side.
He has been a police officer, tow truck driver, furniture mover and even sold ice cream from an ice cream truck. At the same time, operated a citizen patrol and making improvements to his neighborhood.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, Jackson, age 70, reflects on his love affair with his Detroit community.
“Our number one draw is the water,” he said of the canals in his neighborhood, which is south of Jefferson Avenue from Conner/Clairpointe Road to Alter Road, just east of Grosse Pointe Park. “We have the (Detroit) River nearby and the parks and scenery.”
Other things Jackson loves about his neighborhood include:
- Neighbors who look out for each other. They patrol, report crime and work to keep the neighborhood safe, he said.
- Active residents. For example, residents videotape alleged drug deals and pass the footage to police, Jackson said. “We give no warning,” he said. “It has put the fear of God into drug dealers.”
- “This is home,” said Jackson, who heads the Jefferson Chalmers Citizen District Council. “I ride around and see the kids of the kids who used to buy ice cream from me. You cannot beat that.” That continuity is important to neighborhoods, he said.
Jackson said his neighborhood could use a Valentine’s Day gift of additional new street lights and surveillance cameras.
“We need a little bit better lighting,” he said. “That would cut down on accidents. We also could use more cameras. They really help to curtail crime.”
Jackson said he can’t see anywhere else as home and will work to make it better for as long as he is able to do so.
“When you know you can make a difference… it makes you feel like you can really accomplish something.”
The Jefferson-Chalmers Citizens District Council can be reached at PO Box 15708, Detroit 48215 or at (313) 824-1370.