We lack a sense of safety in Alexandria

We lack a sense of safety in Alexandria

To the editor: 

If there is “job one” for Alexandria’s mayor and City Council, it is to focus their energies and Alexandria’s tax revenues on reducing crime. In the last three weeks, on my street, a woman was abducted, a man was assaulted, cars were broken into and there were several thefts. 

My neighbors and I in Old Town are experiencing a steep loss in our sense of safety. This is an experience that is becoming pervasive throughout Alexandria, with the instability of rising crime crushing our lower income communities, where the majority of innocent victims reside. 

Public safety efforts must be prioritized over nice-to-haves like Instagram-able neon signs and other tourist attractions. If we don’t feel safe, how can tourists – who are vital to Alexandria’s financial health – feel safe? 

We need to take serious examples like the city of San Francisco, whose failure to deal with safety has led to a devastating drop in tourism. Tourists are repelled by crime and, unlike residents, have an easy choice of many destinations. 

If tourists stop at a store on King Street only to witness a shoplifter sweeping merchandise into a garbage bag, find themselves the victim of a brazen pickpocketing or discover their rental car was broken into, it’s unlikely Alexandria will be their return destination. 

We should recognize that the criminally inclined are responding predictably to weak authority when we underfund and understaff our police force. In addition, as we have seen in the failure to alert the public to a recent abduction, criminal offenses appear to be downgraded on the fly. 

This shapes the public’s perception of crime as milder than it truly is, perversely undermining crucial support for our police force. If only actual crimes could be suppressed so easily. 

-KC Carlyle, Alexandria