People assume crime mostly happens in big cities. When a person walks along the bustling streets of a metropolis, he or she may do so with a guarded feeling. A small city or town is traditionally where people feel safer.
Reports of three armed robberies within 30 minutes in Gloversville on Sunday and the arrests of 12 people, including reputed Latin Kings gang members, on drug charges in Amsterdam on Tuesday remind us our small communities are not immune to crime.
The crime rate in Fulton County actually is comparatively high. According to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the combined rate of property and violent crime per 100,000 in population in 2011 was higher in Fulton County than in New York City and statewide. The rate was 2,884.1 per 100,000 in Fulton County, compared with 2,334 in New York City and 2,295.6 statewide. Montgomery County's rate was 2,146.9.
According to a report in Yahoo! News, FBI crime statistics showed that in 2011, murder was down 2 percent nationwide from the previous year, but up 18.3 percent in communities with populations smaller than 10,000.
Residents of small towns should not be lulled into complacency. Crime is no respecter of people, places or things. Drugs and alcohol abuse, joblessness, a conscience deficit and abusive upbringings exist in every community and can be precursors to crime.
People living in Fulton and Montgomery counties should watch out for their own safety. They should lock their house and car doors, be careful about walking alone on dark streets at night and report unusual behavior or situations to police.
In decades past, people living in small towns knew their neighbors and many of the residents in the community. They knew whom to trust and whom not to trust. They looked out for one another. Nowadays, people can live in a neighborhood for years without knowing many of their neighbors.
One way small communities can react to crime is to create neighborhood watches. We've seen these groups get started in Gloversville and other localities. They are worth organizing so the criminal element realizes many eyes are watching.