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Lets see, in the span of two years that I lived in Asbury Park, a heroin addict lived in the apartment above mine. He had yip-yappy dogs that yipped and yapped and scurried across the floor late into the night. Our appartment got broken into, and my wife’s lap top got stolen as a result. My teaching bag — which is a computer bag, only with papers, not computer in it — was stolen out of my car, only to be found blocks away, on a small island in a man made lake. Beer cans surrounded said bag. Strange people, in the middle of the night, would show up on my porch, lookng for Mr. Heroin Addict. The house across the road got raided, rather publically on the news, as a crack house. I had a bicycle stolen. Somebody broke into the basement and stole the communal washer and dryer. That’s right, huge, bulky, heavy appliances had been unhooked, carried up some steps, and apparently loaded onto a truck.  And one or two murders occured within two blocks of my home.

Trust me, I know Asbury Park, rather well. This wasn’t the late 1990’s ghost town either, but the tail end of 2004, 2005, and part of 2006.

And I don’t hold a grudge, either.

I say this, because when I come across this Asbury Park Press story, it made me very happy:

A downturn in crime that made last year the best in the city in a decade is continuing so far this year, according to reports for the first half of 2008.

Police Chief Mark Kinmon released statistics through the end of June showing one murder compared with three at the halfway point last year. There were reports of 69 robberies compared to 86 halfway through 2007, two rapes compared with six at the same time last year, and 62 aggravated assaults compared with 74 as of June 30 last year.

The reduction in homicides, if it continues, is significant, following the high of eight in 2006 and six last year. The city, like many urban communities, was hit hard with young people, often gang members, shooting and killing each other.

“We feel we’re making a lot of progress on the gangs,” Kinmon said. “The county (Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office) continues to be a big help.”

Maybe we really are on the cusp of an Asbury Park Rebirth — complete, this time, not partial. I hope so.

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