"It will take the community to get angry and take back their city."
With those words Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine summed up the intersection of a general malaise in civic pride and the spike in crime that has eroded efforts that should have put Steubenville in position to be rebounding from the loss of the steel industry.
There are those who will contort DeWine's statements on his meeting with local law enforcers and government leaders Monday into reasons to comment about his lengthy investigation into the Steubenville High School rape case. That investigation, though not perhaps the climate of a city that seems to have given up on itself, is a separate issue.
What DeWine is talking about is the general spike in crime, the near daily reports of shootings, six murders so far in one year, the infiltration of out-of-town crime gangs combining with local people to make the city's streets less than safe.
The time for blame is over. It's not the police department's fault. It's not the government's fault. It's not your neighbor's fault. It's not DeWine's fault or the school system's fault.
That leaves you - individually and as part of a community of citizens. Do you simply shake your head at the Detroit-style crime that infiltrates the streets? Do you make snide remarks under your breath or to your friends about your community and its conditions? Or do you try to help by knowing who is in your neighborhood, when to call the police and then helping the police by providing information about what you saw and when. Do you get involved in efforts at improving the community or join the chorus that makes fun of those who still try to make this a decent place in which to live?
On hearing DeWine's statement, did you get angry about conditions or at DeWine? If it was the latter, it's no wonder the criminals commit murder.
The criminals only get the upper hand when cities give up on themselves.
DeWine is offering resources from his office. Local law enforcement continues to try to fight the good fight. But it is only when the city does more than expect answers from everyone else than its own citizenry that change can occur.
Steubenville should be at the center of opportunity in the gas and oil field boom that is happening all around here, but its reputation is hurting it, according to local business leaders. The first step to changing that reputation is acknowledging there is a reason for its existence.
Then, with commitment from the citizenry and the aid of the attorney general's resources combined with the efforts of state, county, city and federal law enforcement, driven by the will of the people, change will occur.
It's time to move forward.