OUR VIEW: Crime doesn’t show we’ve lost our way

By Daily News • Last Updated 3:06 pm on Monday, November 21, 2011

Desperate times call for desperate measures.
For many people around us this year, those desperate measures result from bad decisions — measures that endanger the public and victimize scores of innocent people.
Nearly all summer we’ve been reporting on a burgeoning rash of petty thefts, break-ins and larcenies. Summer often brings more crime, but this year was especially bad by all accounts. Police blame illegal drug habits and economic factors for the crimes.
Most of these involved relatively small amounts of money and lesser valued property being stolen. Many of those crimes could be explained away as crooks finding an easy score — unlocked homes or vehicles with valuables clearly in view. Some of the thefts occurred during brazen home invasions while people were in another room sleeping.
Predictably, as the autumn temperatures began to fall, so did the number of crimes reported. However, crime thrust itself back to center stage last week around Greenville. Wednesday’s armed robbery at Huntington Bank downtown and Saturday’s early morning shooting at the Flat River Inn and Suites captured the entire community’s attention.
Suddenly the violence ratcheted up — way up. The relatively minor petty thefts devolved into two men arming themselves with guns — one to demand money, the other to seriously harm another person.
The community is scared, and rightfully so. Police appear no closer to solving either crime than the day they happened. Even the FBI says it is basically stumped by the bank robbery.
Take heart, Greenville and Montcalm County are still safe.
The events of last week don’t represent our community’s values. The extremely dangerous and violent behavior like last week’s bank robbery and shooting are exceedingly rare around here. Just because they happened the same week doesn’t mean Greenville suddenly is Ground Zero for violent crime.
Last week, police marshaled a bevy of resources in reacting to the dangerous situations around Greenville. Even if the investigations are stalled, police at least brought to bear enough uniforms and firepower to neutralize the immediate risk in a matter of minutes. Greenville school officials also reacted swiftly to shield our children from danger.
All the preplanning worked.
The thefts and break-ins reported all summer are typical, especially in a challenging economy. As any law enforcement official can attest, crime goes up when economic activity in the area goes down. The economy is certainly down here.
Many of the suspects in this summer’s crime spree have been captured and brought to justice. Police are actively pursuing those who are still on the loose. Of course, their jobs would be easier if their ranks weren’t thinning due to budget cuts that go hand in hand with the poor economy that is causing more crime. Talk about a vicious cycle.
Even with more than adequate policing levels, crime will never disappear from our society. We all need to protect  ourselves as best we can. Lock your home and vehicles, shield valuables from view and report anything suspicious to the proper authorities.
Those three simple steps can go a long way to keep Greenville and Montcalm County a safe and thriving community.

Editorial opinions are a consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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