This past Sunday, The Goshen News published a report that charted the prevalence of violent crime in Goshen. The numbers — based on reports of homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — show that incidences of violent crime have increased in the past five years.
So far this year in Goshen, there has been a murder and reports of 14 rapes, 21 robberies and 16 aggravated assaults (total of 52). In all of 2011 there were two murders and reports of 12 rapes, 17 robberies and 17 aggravated assaults (total of 48). Total reported violent incidences in 2010 were 35, in 2009 were 39 and in 2008 were 46.
Those are the numbers and the numbers are part of our story. There is violence in Goshen. We wish there wasn’t, but there is. Over the past two decades Goshen has increased in population from less than 20,000 residents to more than 30,000 residents. It stands to reason that crime numbers would inch upward as well. Violent crime is disturbing and significant efforts by our public officials and police officers are expected to help keep the public safe. We are confident that both take that responsibility seriously.
Still, numbers only give us a glimpse into this matter. While no incident of violent crime should be discounted or taken lightly, we live in a community with an identity that goes well beyond our crime statistics. We have a strong public school system and a highly regarded residential college. We have a lively downtown. Our arts and entertainment community continues to grow. We have a bike/pedestrian trail system that is the envy of other communities. We have neighborhood associations that look out for our residents. And we have citizens who love and care for this community.
So, we look at these crime numbers and we don’t see a dangerous community. We see a community with some work to do to become safer. Education, responsible parenting and counseling services should be part of this workload. There is only so much a police department or a mayor or a City Council can do.
Goshen is not a perfect community. Never was, never will be. Safety is important to all of us and each of us has the right to feel safe in our hometown. We shouldn’t be scared by these numbers. We should challenged by them and talk as much as we can in the months to come to perhaps develop a community plan for how we can reduce this violence.