Published 10:20 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

There are some topics of conversation that are uncomfortable for a community to engage in. Crime, especially violent crime, is one of them.

For several weeks, the news staff of The Tidewater News has been planning a special report on crime in our community, specifically on crime in the city of Franklin. It will likely be unpleasant for some to read, and it is a report we wish we didn’t have to produce. But Franklin has a problem with crime, and it is important that we start a conversation about it.

How significant is the problem? According to the report, “Crime in Virginia, 2013,” produced by the Uniform Crime Reporting Section of the Virginia State Police, Franklin has the second highest crime rate among all cities and counties in the entire state. Measured by the number of incidents of crime per 100,000 residents, Franklin comes in with a whopping 12,189 per 100,000, trailing only the city of Roanoke, which leads the state at 12,718 per 100,000 residents. To put things in perspective, the report shows the city of Hampton with 6,980 incidents per 100,000, Newport News with 7,952 and Southampton County with 4,602.

In today’s newspaper alone, there are three separate crime reports on three separate incidents that occurred in Franklin during the past week, all within an 84-hour time period. In at least two of the incidents, and possibly in all three, a gun was involved. One was an attempted robbery on Tuesday morning, another was a shooting on Monday afternoon, and the other was a melee that took place following Franklin’s Christmas parade on Friday night.

Franklin indeed has a crime problem, but we won’t solve it by simply wishing it away. It will take many candid and difficult conversations, and must include business leaders, civic leaders and members of every geographic and demographic section of the city. We are committed to starting that conversation here. We can only hope those in a position to affect positive change will engage in it as well.