BLOG: NPR's report on Sandusky

Tom Jackson
Sep 21, 2010


On Sunday, I published an article previewing a radio article about Sandusky that was going to run as part of the Changing Gears series, which is a project of a consortium of NPR stations, including WCPN in Cleveland. WCPN reporter Dan Bobkoff's report on Sandusky, about seven minutes long, aired today. If you missed it, you can read the story, or hear it, here. I thought Bobkoff did a nice job.





Yes, nice job. But...

"...But this summer was unusual. There was a crime wave. Shootings, once rare, were common."

Huh? Crime wave???!!!  Not to diminish the effect these events had on the victims, but this stuff was trivial compared to Really Dangerous Places. Thank God this stuff is still news around here -- there are cities where it wouldn't even have been reported. Yet the erroneous perception that Sandusky has a Big Crime Problem just makes her problems worse.

Locally, however, it made a sensation that couldn't be passed up. But the damage to Sandusky's reputation for safety was horrendous, and in this writer's opinion, activity Downtown immediate diminished noticeably, even though the shootings didn't happen there.

Earlier in the year, the Acting Chief got in hot water over comments about gangs in Sandusky.The police need to be careful with their words.

This is not to blame the misperception of Sandusky as a "high crime" area on media and police gaffs. At least not entirely. Many area suburbanites live in a clueless little Pollyanna La-La Land  with a smug and false sense of security, and oblivious to the fact that Sandusky's problems are dragging their burgs down, too.

Here's more context around the quote that got my attention:

     "Kevin Youskievicz has been a cop in Sandusky nearly 20 years, and he says it’s still a good old American town.
     “This is a city where you can still walk the streets at night time,” he said. “You can still raise a family in the city.”
     But this summer was unusual. There was a crime wave. Shootings, once rare, were common. He says it felt like every day and many think the economy is to blame."

This shows that even when comments are reasonably responsible in their full context, they can do damage.

The police and the media can help by being not just responsible, but VERY CAREFUL with their comments and reminding folks that while they should take common-sense measures for personal safety WHEREVER they are, it's still pretty safe around here.


What exactly are you complaining about? There WAS a crime wave this summer & I wouldn't want to walk down the streets at night. There are a few areas I wouldn't go near during the day either. Why sugarcoat it?


Thank you, Kelly, you've helped make point. What's your definition of crime wave? Is it just more crime than usual, even if it's still not very much? When there's a wave of crime reporting, people think the place is dangerous, even if it isn't.