City Hall says fear of crime matters
I have repeatedly in my Crime Scenes articles talked about how people's fears about crime negate statistics showing people shouldn't be afraid. After all, crime is down to 20 year lows in some categories.
City leaders, then as in the past, love to blame the media for hyping crime beyond proportion. And yes, one sensational crime -- the stabbing of the Hopkins researcher or virtually anything that happens at the Inner Harbor -- can shatter people's peace of mind. The picture at left by The Sun's Justin Fenton is from a recent shooting in East Baltimore of a church caretaker.
The shooting at the Hilton Tuesday night stemmed from a domestic argument confined to a room, but because it happened in one of the city's premier hotels, it gets attention. It can only solidify Baltimore's bad reputation when tourists see police rushing into the hotel and taking someone out on a stretcher and another out in handcuffs.
If you visit another city for the first time and see police swarm the primary shopping street, you might conclude the city is unsafe and you'll never visit again, even if that was the first time something bad happened in the past decade. Similarly, people call the newsroom all the time saying they saw three police cars speed by their house and that's evidence crime is out of control.
It's difficult because fear can't be quantified. And even if the fear is unjustified or irrational, it's still there and still has a negative effect. Combating it is nearly impossible, and citing stats virtually useless.
Today, I wrote about how these same issues were in play 36 years ago. On Sunday, I wrote about how two neighborhoods dealt with separate killings. I also received an e-mail from Ian T. Brennan, one of the spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. This is what he had to say:
The Mayor addressed this point last week on a couple of occasions, saying, “For the first six months of this year, we had the fewest killings in 25 years, but this statistic does not bring comfort to a grieving family. Last month we had the fewest number of shooting on record, but this fact does not bring relief to a neighborhood that witnesses a heinous crime. We have made great progress in reducing violence but our work is not done until all the people of Baltimore feel safe in their neighborhoods.”
Throughout the year,she repeatedly said that the drop in crime was “not a cause for celebration,” but rather “a call to do even more.”
What’s more, mentioning the recent decrease in crime is not our way of disregarding the concerns of people in the City. It is an important acknowledgment the efforts of the Police Department and dedicated community leaders to reduce crime. As you no doubt read last week, the Mayor’s family was touched by a senseless act of violence that nearly killed her brother. She understands the impact crime has on victims and their families.