Suzanne Loudermilk, Executive Editor
As a former cop reporter, I know crime is everywhere. You wouldn’t believe the mayhem that doesn’t get reported. But there are degrees. A petty theft is not as horrendous as a slaying—unless, of course, you’re the victim. Several years ago, my home was burglarized, and I still remember how betrayed I felt when I realized strangers had been going from room to room, ransacking drawers and stealing possessions.
I came home from work that afternoon to find my golden retriever Molly shut up in a bedroom. That alone should have set off alarms since she had the run of the house. It took my 11-year-old’s comment, “Mom, where’s the TV?” to make me realize what happened. The detectives caught the robbers. They were armed. It turns out they had easy access to my house. They had been installing carpet the week before and had unlocked my basement windows so they could return. I was fortunate that I didn’t come home while they were still in the house. Others aren’t so lucky.
This month, Delaware Today looks at crime and how it affects the city of Wilmington (see page 84). It’s a lot more serious than an annoying housebreaking. Citizens are being shot and murdered at an alarming rate. Senior writer Mark Nardone spent months talking to those in the know to find out the who, what, where and why behind the statistics. A national spotlight on Wilmington in a Newsweek article titled “Murder Town USA” spurred “an unprecedented effort—many efforts, from the governor’s office on down—to stop gunfire in the street,” he writes.
You’ll meet a 15-year-old who committed a robbery with a handgun, a man whose teen grandson was shot in the head, a violence prevention worker, a former drug dealer who got clean and many others grappling with the effects of the sociological problems that have led to bloodshed among an increasingly younger population. There are no easy answers. And because of the depth and concern for this volatile issue, we will run part two of Mark’s story in June. He will discuss solutions—and what it will take to end the violence once and for all. But certain neighborhoods in Wilmington are not alone in confronting crime. Just down the road, Dover is on alert. The state capital has also seen its share of violent crime. Police chief Paul Bernat is worried about crime overflow from Wilmington if the thugs expand out of the city.
In the Dover story (see page 86), managing editor Drew Ostroski explores the problem and looks at strategies the police department is employing to prevent an unwelcome influx, including more patrols and cleaning up neighborhoods. While the Newsweek story may have been hurtful to Wilmington—which is so much more than a crime capital, as we know—it has stirred up a frank dialogue that just may help clean up the city and its image. Dover is counting on it. We are all counting on it.