For the first time, I'm nervous walking around Ashland. I didn't think I would ever feel this way and do not know what to think. I've starting locking my front door and am not comfortable walking after dark. I'm trying to be careful because of everything in the news about women being attacked, but I am wondering: Am I taking this too far or not doing enough to protect myself?

I've spoken to many people recently regarding their reactions to the reported assaults and their feelings are not unique. I've heard several people say they are worried that Ashland is no longer the safe city it once was. What is often surprising to many of us in law enforcement is that so many residents believe there is a bubble over Ashland that keeps crimes that occur in cities right next to ours from occurring here. This is just not the case, and unfortunately, it's times like this that we are reminded of that fact.

Please don't get me wrong, Ashland is a very safe city to live and work in. Historically, Ashland has one third the number of violent crimes compared to the national average. However, I have to be honest that it makes me cringe when I hear people tell me they don't practice simple safety measures such as locking the doors to their houses. Students at Southern Oregon University have told me they'll do things in Ashland they would never consider doing back home because "nothing bad ever happens here."

Please allow me a moment to burst the safety bubble anyone may have thought was hovering over our city. There are bad people who will do bad things and sometimes they find their way into cities like Ashland.

Some of these people are just passing through, but that doesn't mean if the opportunity presents itself they won't act on it.

It is true there has been a recent increase in stranger sexual assaults for our city and it is also true that stranger sexual assaults are relatively rare for any city. Most of the reported sexual assaults we receive involve a suspect who was known to the victim. To me this is just as disturbing, because often the suspect was someone whom the victim knew and trusted.

I wish no one ever had to be the victim of a violent crime, but wishing will not make it so. Please understand I don't want people to become so scared they cannot live their lives. Paranoia doesn't help anyone, and in a horrible way it lets those who do bad things take something away from you again.

There is no need to drastically alter the way you live. Simple precautions such as locking doors and windows, being alert to your surroundings and using good common sense when it comes to your safety will go a long way toward keeping you from becoming a victim. We have a wonderful city that most of the time is a great place to live, and being realistic about what can happen in any city, including Ashland, will help everyone be safe and stay safe.

Got a question for Ashland police Detective Carrie Hull? Send it to or call Ashland Police Department's anonymous tip line number, 541-552-2333.

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