Our View: Crime, or the perception of crime, is something we all face | TheUnion.com
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Our View: Crime, or the perception of crime, is something we all face

Our cities and counties have a crime problem, or at least a perceived crime problem.

You see it on Facebook, the numerous surveillance videos showing people casing a home. You hear it at Grass Valley City Council meetings, where residents this week told their government that something must be done about the rising crime.

And you read it in these pages — four people arrested after police say they refused to leave a makeshift campground littered with trash and featuring a dammed creek and fire pit. Two men and a juvenile accused of breaking into pharmacies. A pair charged after residents say they caught the men breaking into their home.

There is a problem, but it likely doesn't loom as large as some people believe. Because, let's face it, Grass Valley landing on a Top 10 list of the state's most dangerous cities from http://www.roadsnacks.net doesn't pass the smell test.

Because, let’s face it, Grass Valley landing on a Top 10 list of the state’s most dangerous cities from http://www.roadsnacks.net doesn’t pass the smell test.

Members of this editorial board, like some readers of this editorial, have lived in spots across this country with much worse crime.

A guaranteed armed robbery every week and a homicide count in the 20s each year is the norm for one city we once called home.

But news of how wretched life is in other places is small comfort when it's your house someone is casing, or when your items go missing from the backyard shed. This is where we live and we want our community to be safe.

A lot of this crime is anecdotal. "Someone stole my lawn mower. I've lived here for 20 years and it's never happened before."

It's easy to dismiss anecdotal evidence like this when it happens to someone across town. When it hits you, your neighbors or friends, things get personal fast.

Regardless of whether our community is experiencing a crime spike or only the perception of one, authorities need to step up. And so do we. The answer, while elusive, is never to only wring hands.

Grass Valley police, in the process of increasing its ranks, intends to focus one of its officers on the issues of homelessness.

While a good move, it's one they've made before. Having an officer assigned to our homelessness population is smart, if for no other reason than fire danger. However, let's not cast a wide net and claim homeless people are entirely to blame for our crime.

There's plenty we can do as well to soothe our concerns.

Be assured that a continued presence at city council and Board of Supervisors meetings will elicit a response. These folks got into office because of the majority's vote; more often than not, they'll respond to large groups of people upset about crime.

A bigger police presence, an officer focused on homelessness and attentive council members make for a good start. However, it's important to note that there's no easy solution to this issue.

Is crime up? Down? Pretty much unchanged? For most of us, that answer depends on our own experiences.

If we're unhappy about crime here, let's do something about it. Watch out for your neighbors. Call the police when you see something wrong. Make sure your government knows your concerns.

And, regardless of how things may have been 20 years ago, don't forget to lock the door on the backyard shed when you go to bed.

The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.