April 22, 2024
Annapolis, US 44 F

OPINION: Scott Gibson Statement on Annapolis Violence

Ward Two City Council Candidate, Scott Gibson, issued the following statement on rising levels of violence in Annapolis:

“Annapolis is a safe community. This crime is a heinous aberration to the trendline of crime in our city.” Those words were written by our Mayor and published in The Capital last week, and I’ve really struggled with them.

I’ve struggled to reconcile those words with what I hear from residents of that neighborhood. This was the second shooting they endured in less than a year. Just last October, a gunman murdered Shawn McGowan and injured three others, including two teenage girls.

Sitting in the Bowman Place Apartments, I spoke with a gentleman who begged for help relocating to senior housing because he was tired of feeling unsafe.

I spoke with a woman by phone, who was concerned that there wasn’t enough positive programming to keep kids on a good path and away from bad influences.

I talked to neighbor after neighbor, who wondered why the City hasn’t done anything about drug dealing on Clay Street.

They would not describe their Annapolis neighborhood as a “safe community.”

I also struggle to reconcile the Mayor’s words with the City’s crime statistics. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program compiles official data on crime in the United States. Annapolis’s UCRs are published on the City’s website.

In 2018, the Mayor’s first full year in office, there was one homicide in Annapolis. In 2019, there were four. While the 2020 UCR has not yet been posted, The Capital reported six homicides that year. Halfway through 2021, our city has experienced three homicides. This crime was not an “aberration to the trend line”; it was consistent with it.

(There was a decline in homicide from 2017 through 2018 when Chief Scott Baker oversaw the Annapolis Police Department. Ironically, the Mayor fired him.)

I don’t lay blame for the City’s violence solely on the Mayor, but the first step to solving a problem is admitting it exists and the Mayor needs to start recognizing this problem now. Calling this crime an “aberration” does a disservice to our neighbors whose lived experience includes worrying whether their family is safe on their own block.

We need city leadership willing to recognize there is a problem and committed to forging a solution. We can start by filling police vacancies and increasing police presence in our communities most affected by violent crime. But we must go beyond that. We need more youth programs to keep our children on a positive path. We need to foster an environment that connects people to family-sustaining jobs. And, with hard work and better oversight, our City can afford these investments within its existing $152MM budget.

I am running for Annapolis City Council because all our neighbors – whether they live in Wardour or along Clay Street – deserve to feel safe at home. I am committed to doing the hard work to make our neighborhoods safe for everyone of every age. That includes being a voice that’s willing to challenge the status quo and bring problems to the fore.

–Scott Gibson is a Republican Candidate for Annapolis Alderperson in Ward 2

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