Editorial: City takes a step in right direction

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Salisbury may have another, small way to address local crime problems.

Sure, there’s filling vacancies in the Salisbury Post Department and getting Fibrant’s expenses under control. Those are the basics, however, and more innovative ideas will be needed. The Remedial Action Program might be one.

On Monday, the city’s Housing Advocacy Commission hosted a forum for a an item — the Remedial Action Program — that would hold landlords accountable for routine disorderly conduct on their property. The ordinance creates maximum thresholds for crime and disorderly activity. Eventually, the city may be able to take legal action if landlords don’t cooperate.

Planning and Development Services Director Janet Gapen described the program as a way to build relationships among landlords, the police department and city staff. The Remedial Action Program would be intended to focus on problem properties rather than the entire city, Gapen said.

Holding landlords accountable for action that occurs on their property could make a dent in the massive task that lies ahead of local leaders — freeing Salisbury from the grip of gun violence.

It’s important that the program and city staff don’t infringe on private property rights. However, when activity on private property begins to affect the daily lives of others, it’s time to take action.

Judging from Monday’s conversations, there’s still work to do before a program can be finalized, but initial discussions seem to be off to a good start.

For now, it’s important that we all work to create an environment where it’s overwhelmingly more enticing to be a productive citizen than engage in crime.

As the program progresses towards completion, city staff and council members should reach out to all segments of the City of Salisbury to ensure the proposed ordinance reflects a diversity of views.

The Remedial Action Program could be a valuable way for staff to prevent and eliminate disorderly activity and crime in problem areas or it could be a blip on the radar. Let’s make it the former instead of the latter.

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