January 4, 2007


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Concord Publisher's Note: Keeping an eye on crime
By†Dan Szczesny

In the midst of all our resolutions and promises of a better new year, itís tempting to forget that 2007 is not a clean slate, that 2006 trends, whether good or bad, do not simply disappear when we crack open that new calendar.

So, with that in mind, I was struck by the one trend that seemed to have picked up speed in Concord in late December: crime.

To the south, Manchester had a terrible 2006, with a crime wave that started in late summer, picked up speed and culminated with the tragic death of an officer. The city is still reeling, though one good thing that may have come out of it all is a renewed sense of community involvement.

In this city, in the wake of the Manchester officerís death, Concord police chief Jerome Madden made a point of reassuring citizens that his department was in control, that Concord was a very different city than Manchester and that residents should not be afraid of the same thing happening here.

Then, a couple weeks ago, as if to illustrate the chiefís point, our friends at the Concord Monitor did a lighthearted feature on the changes in styles of city police uniforms over the years. And while Iím sure the Police Department in the city is far more interested in being remembered for crime prevention than fashion sense, itís understandable that our colleagues at the Monitor, or even the department itself, might want to keep its sense of humor about it.

Which brings me back to that trend.

In the last week of December, two brothers who were brought up in Concord and have criminal records here were charged with robbing 12 banks around New Hampshire. Meanwhile, a pizza deliveryman was robbed downtown as he was making deliveries. The deliveryman notified police, then followed the suspect until he was eventually caught. A couple days later it was announced that a man charged with robbing a downtown bridal shop was competent to stand trial for a crime he allegedly committed early in 2006. The man is accused of kidnapping and attempted assault during the robbery.

These high-profile crimes, while not necessarily evidence of upsurge in crime, should lead city leaders and residents to think about what they want their city to be in the next year and beyond. The crime wave in Manchester was recognized too late. Letís not make the same mistake in Concord.

Elected officials need to continue to recognize the value of our fire and police departments, and make sure they have the resources needed to maintain order and civility.

Police officials need to not fall into the trap of pride; if more help is needed, ask.

And most important of all, residents need to make sure not to become complacent. The way to respond to crime is not to lock your doors and hide in your bedrooms, or, even worse, to move out of the city. Get to know your neighbors, look out for each other, and learn to recognize potential trouble. Neighborhood watch groups are most effective as a way to prevent crime. Responding to a crime wave only means you are too late.