Editorial: Chestertown Crime and Safety

By Katie Tabeling

Opinion Editor

The greater efforts we make to be a harder target, the less likely we’ll be hit.  Does this statement sound very familiar? It should; Director of Public Safety Gerald Roderick usually says it around Birthday Ball each year. It’s one of those things that we hear, agree with quietly to ourselves, and push to the backs of our minds. Being a hard target is simple enough, we think, but is there really any need for conscious precautions in sleepy little Chestertown?

In a perfect world, the answer is no, nothing can ever happen out here. In reality? Well, let’s look at the recent string of armed robberies for example. Three robberies within a month could be considered a spree for sleepy little Chestertown, but in reality it’s only a spike. There were six armed robberies in the past calendar year. It’s a little disconcerting that in the past month Chestertown has reached half its average for armed robberies, but not exactly alarming compared to other places in the world.

In fact, Chestertown is not even the epicenter of crime. Roderick commented two of the incidents were perpetrated by “a person who is involved in armed robberies throughout the region…working a larger area.”

Chestertown is just another step in a shameless scheme of making a quick buck in hard times. Roderick also stated, “There is a concern with the economy being bad, armed robbery seems to be coming as a more frequent crime in this area than we have seen in past years.”

In the grand scheme of things, quaint little Chestertown is not as crime-ridden as recent events make everyone think. Thefts and robberies could be more frequent nationwide in the face of despondence and the recession than people notice.

So why all this commotion about three robberies? “Student awareness is something that fluctuates,” Roderick explains. “When you have a serious crime that occurs on campus, suddenly everyone comes to revisit how safe are we on this campus. And we see that spike of awareness for a two-week period.” After said period, people drift back into the sense of security. Washington College has come a long way in security precautions; the WAC alert system is just the peak of the new security system.

However, the security system here can only protect you so far. While WC is a place where the Public Safety reports are considered “the funnies” and Chestertown is a quaint place, it still is a place where crime can occur. “

A large number of our population comes from urban areas where crime is part of everyday life,” Roderick said. “[People think] nothing can happen here… but crime is everywhere. It’s hard to get people to take their personal security seriously. That’s our challenge: how do we keep people appropriately thinking about their personal security?”

The greater efforts we make with common sense, the harder target we become. Sounds simple, right? However, it’s easy to throw caution to the wind when we live in sleepy little Chestertown. And that’s where the real trap lies; not in thefts or break-ins, but in how easy it is to forget that crime is truly everywhere.

Chestertown may have a low record of armed robberies, but they still can happen. Three of them occurred in the last month alone. While it’s easy to just let these past events blow over, please take the little efforts to make yourself a harder target. Those little steps could possibly make a world of difference.

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