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Are we vulnerable? You bet we are, just like everybody else.
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By RICHARD AMRHINE
I am not exactly the paranoid sort. Ever since burglars removed everything of value from my parents' house in Baltimore 20 years ago, I've known that bad things happen to people who least deserve it and when they least expect it. As a news person, I'm more aware than most of stories from here, across the country, and around the world about accidents and senseless crimes that claim innocent lives.
Without question our wariness has escalated after the terrorist attacks, and more recently with the unsolved (at this writing) sniper shootings--now two of them in our immediate area. People around the Fredericksburg area seem to have had a head start on being vigilant, given the slayings of Amy Baker, Nancy Seay, Alicia Reynolds, Sofia Silva, Kristin and Kati Lisk, and other cases, solved and unsolved, that have touched this area over the past 13 years.
But the odds are, in spite of the countless dangers that lurk out there, that we will all live to see another day.
So in light of all of this, please, let's not have anyone from around here be quoted as saying, "I never thought anything like this would happen around here." Because unless you've spent years in a coma, you know that if it can happen, it can happen here. It can happen anywhere. No area, no matter how friendly, ordinary, or historically crime-free, is immune from the actions of the misguided few.
This area has proved time and again to be ripe for criminal activity. It is a growing area. Law enforcement is stretched to the limit, having to handle routine patrols and calls as well as long-term, high-profile investigations.
We are located along Interstate 95, perhaps the most heavily traveled corridor in the country. Such access is enticing for a criminal in search of an opportunity and a quick getaway.
It's ironic that the same aspects of life these days in the Fredericksburg area make it an enticing place to live for some and an increasingly unattractive place for others.
As is the case with other growing and economically healthy areas, there is wealth, but also a widening disparity between the haves and have-nots.
There is crime, but also remarkable stories of unity and adjustment to the changes at hand.
There are traffic jams, but there are more services and stores closer to home.
There are rising taxes, but rising salaries as well--according to Census figures, anyway.
What this all means is that we, as individuals or a community, should not consider ourselves any more or less vulnerable than anyone else. Right now it's our turn to be looking over our shoulders a little more often, to be a little more aware of our surroundings. But we're used to that.
Come to think of it, there may be few communities better than ours at keeping watch for suspect behavior, or for vehicles of a certain description. If looking out for ourselves and our neighbors is becoming second nature, that's not a bad thing.
In fact, that might be just the reputation we want. Let's put it on some I-95 billboards.
RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.