Residents across our region have been expressing concern about the apparent increase in crime in recent years.
From drugs to robberies to shooting incidents, it seems there isn't a day going by we don't see or hear of some type of crime in at least one of our communities. This is a great concern, and rightfully so.
Some of our communities have their own police departments to patrol their streets and enforce their laws. The county sheriff's departments and state police are charged with patrolling the remaining roads and towns. Unfortunately, with so much area to cover, they are not able to be everywhere. That has led to increasing frustration from some residents.
This week, Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher took part in a community meeting to try and provide some answers to residents while obtaining information of his own.
The meeting has been described as "emotional" for many of those in attendance, with residents discussing their anger about the rise in local crime, including several home burglaries, and Fletcher discussing some of the plans he has for the future of the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
While not everyone may have gotten the answers they were looking for, we feel this is a good first step for residents.
Our residents need to feel as if they are being protected from the criminal elements in our area, and our local law enforcement officials need to know what is going on.
The lines of communication between residents and our police and sheriffs' departments must remain open, that includes law enforcement maintaining a visible presence while getting to know businesses and residents and our residents being willing to speak up when they see something suspicious.
We thank the Newell Community Improvement Coalition, Sheriff Fletcher, the residents and other county officials who attended this week's meeting. We also encourage them to continue holding these meetings, and for other communities to consider doing the same.
It is only by communicating with one another that we can make sure our area has the future we want.