Is Chester safe?

The question I posed to Chester Mayor John Linder was three simple words.

It is the question I get asked all the time when it comes to the city.

Linder was my guest on our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.' He wanted to talk about the State of the City.

When he was done talking about the city's impressive economic turnaround efforts, I decided to ask my question. "Is Chester safe?"

He quickly assured me it was.

Two weeks later, Linder was back on the show, after an especially violent two weeks in the city. Residents had packed a City Council session and were demanding action to stem the street violence and gunshots that so many said were becoming part of their everyday lives in the city, making some of them prisoners inside their homes.

I reminded Linder of the question I had posed two weeks earlier - and the fact that it had not been a very good two weeks.

He agreed and announced a new program - Operation Safe Streets - to increase police presence on the streets of Chester, in particular in areas where gunfire was being reported on a daily basis.

A few days later, he and District Attorney Jack Whelan held a press conference to detail the plan, now being called 'Operation City Surge.'

He and Whelan followed that up with the first in a series of walking tours of parts of the city. And yet the violence persists.

Last night Linder got an ugly reminder of whether or not the city is safe.

His wife was the victim of a carjack incident as she sat in her car on Reaney Street in the city.

Police say three men approached, pointed a gun at her and demanded her car. She got out, they jumped in and fled toward I-95. This morning police say they have three men in custody. Luckily, Mrs. Linder was not injured in the incident. I like John Linder. Just as I liked his predecessor, Mayor Wendell Butler.

Both men know that I have a job to do, and never tried to interfere with the way I do it, including our coverage of the problems the city still faces.

I'm the first to say that Chester too often gets a bad rap, that it does not get credit for the huge strides that it has made.

But the violence problem simply will not go away.

And this morning John Linder knows all too well exactly what so many resident of the city are complaining about. He and his wife will be in my thoughts today. As will the city.

Maybe I should also offer a prayer. The city surely could use it.


Linda Romano said…
PLEASE DON'T LET THIS GO. . . This is an incident that can make a difference!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!