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On The Coast: A City Grapples With The Fears And Reality Of Crime

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Officials in Salisbury, Md. are stepping up the battle against gangs and calling on the public for help.
Bryan Russo
Officials in Salisbury, Md. are stepping up the battle against gangs and calling on the public for help.

The small Eastern Shore city of Salisbury, Md. is fighting a big-city problem: gangs. Community leaders and police officials say gangs are to blame for much of the city's struggles with violent crime. And with the gangs going into public schools to recruit children as young as 11 years old, they're fighting back and working to keep kids off the street.

Lydia Waters brings her middle-school daughter to the city's Stop the Violence Youth Center, which offers sports and homework help to kids living in some of the roughest parts of Salisbury. She says parents have to be as aggressive as the gangs to protect their children.

"If that's the way they work their business, that's the way to do it is to get them young," she says. "But if we reach them young on a positive note and keep them locked in, then that'll be just as good. It would be perfect if we could do that."

Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton says the city is winning the battle against violent crime, which he says is down more than 33 percent since 2009. But Police Chief Barbara Duncan says there's still work to be done, and she needs the public's help.

"Are we starting to turn a corner? Absolutely," she says. "Is this a critical tipping point for us? It certainly is. So I would say to [the public], please keep engaged, please keep communicating with us, and stand ready to work alongside us."

[Music: "Sea of Love" by Tom Waits from Brawlers / "Tears for fears/Gary Jules - Mad World - Instrumental" by David DeVore from Soundcloud.com]

Photos: Stop the Violence


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