Amid crime concerns, residents bear a responsibility, too.

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In a city that asks visitors to “discover what’s inside,” we invite you to heed Salisbury’s request.

Salisbury is the birthplace of well-known brands such as Cheerwine and Food Lion. It’s comfortably situated between two of North Carolina’s largest cities — the most significant asset.

As downtowns in small cities deteriorate from a lack of maintenance, Salisbury’s stands as an example of what historic preservation can accomplish. All around Salisbury, there are impressive bits of history worth learning.

Salisbury has a vibrant downtown business scene. There are signs of growth around the city.

Stay long enough, though, and you’ll hear gunshots.

You’ll watch as patrol cars from an understaffed police department fly through the city to respond to another shooting. The shootings will occur less than a block from the Salisbury Police Department Headquarters, adjacent to the city’s well-to-do neighborhoods and in the West End.

The city’s majority black communities will be disproportionately affected by incidents of crime. Children will be killed, and those with knowledge of the murder won’t speak up.

People will be shocked and dismayed by incidents of violence. You’ll watch as residents complain during public forums and at City Council meetings about crime. Even residents of neighboring municipalities will demand meetings with Salisbury city staff to discuss concerns.

Nevertheless, crime will persist.

In a city affected by crime of all types, it’s not enough to call for action. It’s not enough to blame police staffing on the financial debacle stemming from Fibrant. City officials should be more responsive to concerns, but there’s more to solving crime than municipal government.

Education can be the grappling hook that lifts children out of poverty. A healthy job market ensures that crime isn’t an attractive option. A healthy home environment provides a solid base for children to build on later in life.

Salisbury is an exceptional city with flaws. The city’s accomplishments were made possible by its residents. Similarly, its flaws are the result of action, or inaction, by residents.

Crime will never disappear. However, if we’re going to eliminate gang violence and senseless shootings, we — the citizens of Salisbury — must take responsibility.

Volunteer for a nonprofit that provides resources to underprivileged youth, cooperate with police investigations and find other ways you can help.

It’s time to discover what’s inside Salisbury.

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