Editorial: Shots taken, solutions wanted

Mar. 02, 2013 @ 06:08 PM

Please join us in climbing off the canvas, dusting ourselves off and taking aim on restoring the good name of Henderson and Vance County. The onslaught has been relentless.

We encourage skipping blame, keeping proper perspective and not getting caught up in sensationalizing.

Law enforcement stays busy. We need them, and they need our help as well.

Our collective damage might not have been more than a public black eye over the last six weeks had our community invested as much effort in crime prevention and tips to law enforcement as transpired irresponsibly on social media and elsewhere. Opportunistic vultures acted irresponsibly, fanned the flames and we burned.

Our emotional buttons, like those within our community, have been pushed with a teenager and two adults shot to death in February. We’ve previously used this space to express our feelings on sexual assaults and rape, and we grieve for what the Feb. 14 victims are going through.

But in assessing the recent fervor, perspective can’t be lost. Arrests were made and charges filed for each of the three February homicides, and no sexual assaults or rapes have been reported since. Armed robberies have run about five to seven per month the last three years, with spikes in frequency related to certain individuals.

Statistics verify overall crime in Henderson to be no worse than 15 years ago, and down for the last three years.

This instant information age can be incredibly useful — think severe weather, school lockdowns and urgent family communication among other things. It can also be incredibly harmful — think water cooler gossip, whispers among friends and an unfiltered Internet.

A joint press release by law enforcement last week was helpful, but we’d have preferred a chance for responsible journalists to ask questions. It might even have prevented the misinterpreted meaning of Tuesday’s successful school safety meeting. We’ll never know. We do know the key in public relations is getting in front, not working from behind.

We’re anxious to hear the next steps from the schools on safety. We’re anxious to hear more dialogue in community watch meetings, as we did at Thursday’s event.

And we’re looking forward to each day law enforcement says community involvement helped solve a crime. We’re all part of the solution.