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Editorial: Together in this fight

The person who killed 7-year-old A’yanna Allen last Sunday took Salisbury gun violence to a new low — and awakened a sleeping giant. A newly united Salisbury and Rowan County are determined to identify the cowardly shooter who sprayed gunfire into a sleeping child’s bedroom, and bring him to justice.

County and city officials did absolutely the right thing last week by joining forces in response to A’yanna’s killing. Together, the local governments are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the girl’s death.

Twenty-thousand dollars is a lot of money. Silence now has a price.

The city and county also worked out a plan for beefing up patrols in Salisbury. County deputies who sign up for extra duty can earn overtime by patrolling city streets in their off hours. Burnout is a risk, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary efforts. This child’s slaying cannot be treated like business as usual.

The overtime-deputies plan is a stopgap measure while Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes works on hiring more officers for the depleted department he inherited in July. Filling 15 slots will take determination and ingenuity; recent tensions have resulted in fewer people going into law enforcement.

The deputies’ help will also free up city detectives to focus on solving A’yanna’s murder — and a dozen or more others that have gone unsolved — instead of filling in on patrols as they have been lately.

The people of Salisbury are very grateful for this additional security. The city is as much a part of Rowan County as Ellis Crossroads, Mount Ulla or Gold Hill; Salisbury property owners pay county taxes, too. But this degree of attacking a problem together is unprecedented in recent history. City and county were more prone toward mutual ridicule than support. After officials announced the award and voted on the staffing issue, the united front seemed like a no-brainer. Yet no one would have dreamed of it four years ago.

Rowan residents outside of Salisbury have much to gain from city-county teamwork, too. What’s good for Salisbury is good for Rowan, and vice versa. And what’s bad for Salisbury has repercussions for the county. Ditto for Spencer, East Spencer and so on. Criminal activity hardly stops at any city limits. Taming the crime beast is as high a priority for Rowan and Salisbury as improving education and attracting good jobs — and they all go hand-in-hand.

A’yanna Allen’s killer may have sunk local crime to a new low, but together the city of Salisbury and Rowan County are determined to solve this crime — and rise above it.

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