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Mayor Challenges Report Claiming Salisbury Is 4th Dangerous U.S. City

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Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton outlines the drop in crime he says the city has seen in the past two years.
Bryan Russo
  Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton outlines the drop in crime he says the city has seen in the past two years.

Salisbury, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, was recently listed as one of the top five most dangerous places to live in the U.S. on the website Neighborhood Scout. Salibury Mayor Jim Ireton says there is more to the story of the city's safety. The mayor says the statistics cited in the report aren't up to date.

Hanging on the wall above Ireton's desk area are more than a dozen sheets of paper listing monthly crime statistics at different hotspot locations throughout the city.

"If you look at today, we are looking at 475 fewer 'Part 1' crimes from this time last year, and almost a thousand -- about 919 -- fewer than two years ago," says Ireton.

Ireton says Part 1 crimes such as rape, murder, and robbery are down by almost 33 percent. But, it's no secret that Salisbury hasn't been the safest place on the shore in recent years, as the city has been battling a significant spike in violent crime, gang activity and prostitution.

Yet, Ireton says that spike in crime does not equate to the claims made in the recent report, which says Salisbury is the fourth most dangerous place to live in the country. He says that, per capita, residents are more likely to be a victim of violent crime than in big cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C.

"These numbers are not accurate," Ireton says. "They don't reflect the current reality and they don't reflect the amount of effort that our officers are making on the streets everyday."

That effort includes a collaboration between a number of different public safety entities including local and state police called the Safe Streets initiative, which puts officers back to walking a beat throughout the neighborhoods, and they've named a list of top 25 criminals to target - a list Ireton says they are working their way through.

But Ireton blames the local media for focusing on the bad things in Salisbury and not informing the public about the progress they are making.

"The lesson here is that it would have been a better idea to say, 'wow, look at what they are doing, instead of wow, look at what they aren't doing.' And that's what we struggle with because good news doesn't lead."

Ireton says the city hasn't turned the corner in the fight against crime just yet, but he believes they are just up around the bend. He admits that message is much harder to sell to many cynical and concerned citizens in Salisbury.

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