Our posts touching on the robbery of the downtown barbership caused an unanticipated sidebar discussion in the comments section with several readers appending a range of reactions to the pieces. As we watched the exchange, we thought we should acquire some insightful data to provide a method for gauging the situation.
Crime: The Best & The Worst
Since the 1930s the Federal Government has collected crime statistics from local jurisdictions with the aim of helping officials measure crime rates. This data is published on many sites on the Internet and some of them, such as Real Estate groups, use the statistics to create rankings of places in order to help home buyers selected the best place to live. A few days ago, Salisbury News, a blog we visit most days to get updates from the Lower Shore, presented information comparing Salisbury to other jurisdictions in Maryland, including Elkton. It indicated that places such as Bel Air, Aberdeen, and Havre de Grace had safer environments than Elkton, much to our surprise. (Havre de Grace and Aberdeen seem to get lots of headlines about drugs and crime.). Given the idea by the Salisbury web-log (We’ve borrowed others story concepts and techniques from the experienced blogger), we decided to drill into our data to see how the county seat of Cecil County is fairing.
Elkton’s crime rate is increasing and it is a consistent upward trend. Beginning in 2004, the numer of serious incidents has increased each year. (2008 data was not available.) Another way to gauge how the community is doing is to compare it to others of similiar size and characteristics. In our case, Elkton has a higher rate than all the places we checked. For comparison, we though Havre de Grace, Bel Air and Aberdeen were appropriate because the size is similiar and population characteristics probably have parallels. We tossed in few more such as Newark, Easton, and Cambridge so we’d have some more benchmarks. We were surprised to see that Elkton’s ranked higher than these other places.
The Elkton Police Department has an authorized strength of 43 officers, and a number of civilians support the force. For the upcoming fiscal year, the department has asked the Mayor and Commissioners to include additional sworn personnel.
Surely the issue of public safety is one that the Elkton Alliance is considering as it implements strategies to revitalize the central business district. Having a downtown area that is appealing to visit and one where people feel comfortable strolling has to be a critical element of a revitalizaton plan, if the town is going to draw people back to Main Street.