DUNKIRK Tense times need leadership

Since late March when a shooting took place at an area establishment on East Second Street, there have been a number of other disconcerting incidents in the city of Dunkirk. On April 9, gunshots were reportedly fired in the area of East Beaver and Second streets.

On May 7, there were additional reports of gunshots being fired around East Sixth and Leopard streets. On May 8, officers were patrolling around Zebra and Second streets after another reported incident. Then, just this past Wednesday, a stabbing left a teenage girl dead.

Is Dunkirk getting more dangerous? That is a matter of perspective. Many would say the city has become more violent than in previous years.

But according to the Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, the most violent years in the city were in 1998 and 2004 when 68 and 67 violent crimes were handled by the city officers. In recent years, the same site notes, the highest number of violent crimes was 47 in 2012.

The site’s statistics only go through 2014, but looking at the most recent numbers available — from 2017 through the Dunkirk Police Department, Chief David Ortolano recorded 108 felony arrests. Many of those, it must be noted, were drug arrests — not violent crimes.

That being said, tensions and emotions are currently running high. It is evident in the community and its schools.

True communication is what is needed most — from the city and school leaders. On Friday afternoon, Mayor Wilfred Rosas and Superintendent Dr. James Tracy issued a statement that city schools are safe after a threat circulated that same day leading some parents to keep their children home.

Words, however, are not enough at this time. Dunkirk needs greater leadership. A press conference or a gathering of leaders to discuss some of these issues with the community, possibly at the high school, could help.

At this moment residents are engaged. Some are sad, many are worried and there is definitely anger.

That is not how we want our lives to be here moving forward. We definitely need some healing. Who will take charge?

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