We suspect the latest spate of violent crime in Frederick has many of you asking, “What in the world is going on downtown?”
We know we have been tempted to do so. For the past few weeks, there’s been an uneasiness as the city deals with this unusual two-week spike in violence. Since Aug. 31, there have been three shootings and two stabbings in Frederick. Fortunately, there have been no fatalities.
The truth of the matter is that serious crimes — specifically crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and vehicle theft — are down 11 percent from last year, according to Frederick police. But, as Alderman Roger Wilson pointed out earlier this week, “our community is not immune to the gun violence that’s happening across the nation, state and region.”
Unfortunately, he’s not wrong.
Still, as residents and business owners continue to ask questions, city officials must continue to help us make some sense of this surge in violence. That leadership should include continuing to talk to the public to make sure they know that Frederick is a relatively safe city. Because it is.
These cases, for instance, police say are all targeted and not random, meaning the attackers were after a particular person or people. While most know that intellectually, it doesn’t do a lot to change perception. As we all know, perception is reality in many cases.
“It’s frustrating because it sends the wrong message about what this community really is,” Mayor Michael O’Connor told us earlier this week.
Earlier this week, Frederick police placed more officers on patrol, particularly on Market Street. The stepped-up police presence should give the public some reassurance. Those patrols will be paid for by a $20,000 grant the city received in July from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.
But the best tool to fight crime is public participation. Police can’t be everywhere, so they need people to come forward when they see something. Right now, we suspect that there are those who saw a few of these violent crimes but are unwilling or afraid to come forward. A safe city is a place where everyone keeps an eye out for their neighbors.
Our hope is that these recent violent attacks are an aberration. We just can’t assume that they are.
As Alderman Derek Shackelford told us this week, “we need to be on this. We need to be addressing this.”
That’s going to require a combination of police, politicians and the public. Let’s not wait for another series of violent acts to do so.