Soon Annapolis will become overwhelmed and it will eventually spread to my beloved Eastern Shore, where I grew up.
Annapolis's Anxiety Has Outpaced Crime Rate By Raymond McCaffreyWashington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 3, 2007; Page B01
With the sudden force of a summer storm off the Chesapeake Bay, much of Annapolis seems to be in an uproar over crime.
Businesses are offering reward money to catch violent robbers. Residents are meeting to discuss their safety. The mayor has issued four policy statements on law enforcement the past month, proposing longer police shifts, security cameras at public-housing complexes and officers on horseback and Segways.
Yet violent crime in Annapolis actually dropped 8 percent during the first six months of 2007 as compared with the same period last year. The city has had as many homicides this year -- four -- as bigger cities report in a week. And all those cases were quickly solved.Then why the sudden concern? Combine a couple of high-profile crimes in prime locations of the city, alarm being sounded by City Council members while the mayor was away on an extended vacation, and the fact that one victim was walking home from the influential Annapolis Yacht Club.
"That's almost the perfect storm," said Ross H. Arnett III, a yacht club member who is also a Democratic alderman, representing Ward 8. "It doesn't happen that often."
The crimes that led to the heightened concern were near some of the city's best-known restaurants and businesses. On July 24, a restaurant worker was severely beaten and robbed by a group of people while walking home in Eastport, a neighborhood of upscale businesses and homes. On July 31, a young female employee of the yacht club was assaulted by a robber in Eastport while returning home.
Neither case has been solved. Although overall crime is down, incidents of aggravated assault and motor-vehicle theft are up for the first six months of the year.
The July 31 attack, in particular, "got the yacht club energized," said Arnett, whose district includes Eastport. "The yacht club has a lot of powerful members."
The outcry over crime is coming from people who are living and working "in what is essentially a paradise," Arnett said. "When you get the reminder that all of life is not idyllic, it's a major disruption."
Arnett said one Eastport resident told him that she was now "afraid to leave her house and she's afraid inside her house."
Rewards are being posted. The Eastport Civic Association has formed a committee focusing on crime, he said. And the Annapolis Yacht Club installed a security camera on its premises.
When Mayor Ellen O. Moyer (D) returned in mid-August from a trip that included a visit to Annapolis's sister city in Scotland, she discovered that her record on crime was being attacked.