Fighting crime and perception it exists

When it comes to public safety, no one is looking the other way, not Mayor Denis Law and certainly not the Police Department.

When it comes to public safety, no one is looking the other way, not Mayor Denis Law and certainly not the Police Department.

That’s why I believe Law when he says that he and the city are committed to making downtown Renton a safe place to live, work and shop.

That commitment is most evident in the police resources the city is investing in downtown Renton, even when the statistics show the actual crime rate may not justify such an investment.

What the city is really up against is perception. You hear about the stabbing at the Renton Transit Center Thursday night and it feels like just one more sign that downtown is crime-ridden.

That perception is what the city is fighting, as much as the crime and criminals that give it some credence.

Perception, like actual crime, needs to be attacked head on. It won’t go away if we just stick our heads in the sand. That’s not what the city is doing.

Still, a violent crime such as the one Thursday night and the publicity surrounding it tend to fuel that perception.

I’ve written this before. This crime is not the fault of the transit center. I tried to make that point early in my story today on the stabbing. Most everyone had probably heard or read about the incident, so it seemed logical to put such a disturbing crime into a larger context.

That larger context is making sure that we understand the role the transit center played in the incident. In this case, none. It was an innocent bystander. This stabbing could have happened on Renton Hill or in Kennydale.

What’s important here, I think, is that we take an honest look at what’s happening downtown, or in any downtown for that matter. Crime does happen. That’s a fact of life. Downtown and the rest of Renton are not immune. We certainly can’t be paralyzed by the perception of crime and we need to be ever-vigilant about the threat of crime.

That’s why information is so important when trying to figure out exactly what happened Thursday night and how we should judge its impact on the city. In reality it’s another statistic and, thankfully, the 74-year-old who was stabbed will survive his wounds.

Law makes a good point when he warns against taking matters into your own hands. That stabbing probably would not have happened had the family of the cell-phone robbery contacted the police, rather than go looking for the suspects themselves.

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