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A recent article at the top of the BDN page noted that “Penobscot County had Maine’s highest crime rate last year.” The subheadlines, which appeared both on BDN’s Facebook and Twitter pages, noted that these crime rates are associated with drug crimes.
Given that our society is quick to read headlines without reading the article itself, one would think that crime must be increasing and that it is something to be feared. And yet, in the third paragraph, Judy Harrison notes that crime rates in the county have fallen by 45 percent. Crime is going down, continuing its long historical trend of doing so that dates back nationally to the 1990s. But one would not know that from the fear-mongering headline.
Crime going down should have, at the very least, been the subheadline. Instead, one would have needed to open the article to realize the good news on crime. Given that Penobscot County has been attempting to expand its jail in the face of 10 years of lowering crime rates, this fear mongering helps do the work of the county to convince the public that we need jail expansion.
I hope in the future the BDN can refrain from doing public relations for the county’s disastrous proposal, which I noted in my recent guest column that was published in the BDN’s Nov. 30 print edition.
Crime has been going down for 10 years. That should be the focus. I hope the paper will refrain from inciting fear of crime.