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The potential for violent crime goes with the territory in urban America. Chalk up another reason to live in Cape Girardeau. While this community and the surrounding region are not crime-free, and are certainly not exempt from murders that identify a growing decay in larger cities, Cape Girardeau has an enviable record in public safety. No list of community assets can discount this fact.

Nationwide, 1991 will be remembered as a frightful year for human relations. By some accounting, more than 25,000 murders were committed last year. In numerous cities, from San Diego to Anchorage to Rochester, N.Y., homicide records were rewritten as part of a wave of violent crime. Within two hours' drive of our community, St. Louis fell just short of a murder record last year. There were 260 homicides in St. Louis during 1991, up a whopping 40 percent from the previous year. On a per capita basis (61 killed per 100,000 population), the St. Louis statistics came in as triple the murder rate of New York City and six times the national average.

The Cape Girardeau total of homicides (raw numbers, per capita or any other way) is gratefully compared to this roster of misery zero. In fact, in three of the last four years, there have been no murders in the city of Cape Girardeau.

We approach this subject with a sort of knock-on-wood sensibility; our good fortune in this regard should not be embraced so tightly that we discard caution. Cape Girardeau can not hold itself exclusive of national problems, nor has it separated itself completely from violent crimes, despite all our wishes that it could.

The point is that the numbers and in this case, the lack of them speak volumes. Cape Girardeau is a relatively safe place to live, to work, to raise a family. While we must be constantly vigilant in our efforts to keep it that way, we can take pride in bucking what is a grim national trend.