In less than just one year, we, as a nation and a community, have lost too many victims to gun violence and domestic terrorism in Aurora, Colo., in Newtown, Conn., throughout our nation, and, most recently, the bombing and slayings in Boston.
A male teenager recently was shot by another teenager on South George Street. A mother is burying her son. An unborn child is going to be reared without his or her father. Family members have lost their best friend.
Our York has lost two teens on the cusp of their adulthoods -- their whole lives spread out before them and then terribly changed in a moment -- because of senseless gun violence.
Even though our city's violent crime rate is down, as a mother, as a grandmother, as a veteran and as an active member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, I believe that each life ended or scarred by illegal guns, drug turf wars or terrorism is one too many.
Citizens, neighborhood associations, faith-based leaders and your governments must work smarter together to do more to prevent innocent victims and wasted innocence caused by senseless violence.
Today, we are witnessing the slaughter of our own innocents and innocence -- our teenagers, our children and our precious, untapped resources.
Today's senseless slaughter is not decreed by a ruthless dictator. It is tolerated and perpetuated by the fraying fabric of our families and neighborhoods, our own apathy, drug wars and corridors, ideological and religious extremism, silly notions of what it is to be "a man," a so-called "anti-snitching" culture, the dissemination of illegal guns and ineffective gun safety laws.
Together, we must protect and nurture our innocents and our innocence with eternal vigilance so that they can flourish as adult resources throughout our York.
Since day one, we methodically have implemented our Community Policing Strategy, which emphasizes our police officers engaging neighbors, faith-based leaders, and neighborhood patriarchs and matriarchs to take ownership of our neighborhoods.
Our Community Policing Strategy works.
Part 1 crimes are the most serious crimes, including murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, arson and motor vehicle theft. Over the last decade, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting system, our City of York has achieved a 25 percent decrease in Part 1 crimes.
During our administration, Part 1 crimes have gone down 17 percent (from 2,652 in 2008 to 2,212 in 2012).
The best antidote to criminal and anti-social behavior is eternal vigilance on behalf of all of us, and healthy partnerships between our neighborhood patrols, our police department and our people.
I continue to urge our residents, neighborhood associations, family members, faith-based leaders to stand up and speak out against anti-social behavior, threats of violence and suspected crime.
Perpetrators of violence diminish our quality of life and hold us back from our untapped potential. Perpetrators of and peddlers of violence infect communities like a cancer and act so carelessly that we, as a community, should not and cannot be willing to protect them any longer.
At the same time, if you notice someone you love or know who is becoming a lone wolf, who is becoming estranged, or who is drifting away from family, the right friends and productive activity, step in.
Intervene before he or she goes down the wrong road too far. Ask questions, show that you care. Tug, hug, love and follow up. Do your part to create a stronger community where, yes, we do know what our children are doing at night -- each and every night.
Our people are our greatest resources. Unfortunately, many of our financial resources as a nation, county and a city are used to prosecute and incarcerate untapped resources that have gone awry way too young.
So do your part to create a community where, yes, we regularly communicate with our teens and young adults, especially our young men, to let them know that we are here for them to vent, to have a sympathetic ear and to have a role model.
Reporting illegal weapons or criminal behavior is not snitching. And, intervening in the life of a young person going down the wrong path is not being nosy. Both are part of doing your civic duty; both are part of exercising your right to make your neighborhood to be what it should be: safe for you, your family and neighbors to live in peace.
I continue to urge everyone to work with our police in using your powers -- technological in the form of smart and camera phones, your God-given intelligence and your free speech rights -- to pass on solid information to police. Let's be neighbors who are informed, who keep the lights on, who listen and who ask questions that care.
As always, we urge any residents and stakeholders with information on any crime to contact our police. Your information is anonymous, meaning your name will not be asked or written down. The information that you provide is necessary to making you, your families and your neighbors safe.
To report and pass on anonymous information, call the Police Tip Line at (717) 849-2204. Anonymous tips about any crime and anonymous tips about illegal guns may be text messaged to our YORKTIPS six-digit tip line at 847-411.
To get illegal guns off our street, in addition to YORKTIPS, we now offer "Gun Drop Off Amnesty." We promise "no judgment, no charge" to people who turn in any gun -- illegal or legal. Firearms can be dropped off at the Police Department, 50 W. King St. Doing so may very well save a life.
Together, we can build a thriving urban community of opportunity, humaneness and justice for all, a community where our innocents and our innocence flourish as adult resources for our York.