OUR VIEW: It takes a village … to catch a thief

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:49 am on Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hillary Rodham Clinton popularized the phrase, “It takes a village” as the title of a book she authored while serving as first lady in the 1990s. It since has been misused and overused on a variety of subjects over the years.

However, in some cases the phrase is spot on. It does take a village — or a city, community or group of people — to do certain things. Solving crime is one of them.

That’s why we’re appalled at some of the criticism and apathy being directed at local law enforcement — specifically the Greenville Department of Public Safety. True, there have been four high profile violent crimes in the city since Nov. 9 and no arrests have been made in any. We’re concerned about that just as much as anyone.

Trust us, the police are doing all they can to catch whoever is responsible for each of the crimes.
Greenville public safety officers are well trained and capable of solving each of the crimes. Interim Public Safety Director Gary Valentine said as much the day after the latest crime — an armed robbery at the Family Dollar store downtown.

What police need the most is evidence and tips. That’s where “It takes a village” comes in. The Greenville Department of Public Safety has 16 full-time police officers and four part-time reserve officers. At most, only a handful are on duty at any given time. That’s only eight or 10 eyes keeping watch over Greenville.

Eight or 10 eyes can’t be everywhere at the same time. Greenville has about 8,500 residents — about 17,000 eyes to keep watch over the city. That’s enough eyes to patrol nearly the entire city.

Our duty as citizens of this city is to look out for ourselves and our neighbors. If you see something suspicious, call police. If you see a crime taking place, take down a description and call police.

A couple people have commented to us in the days following the Family Dollar robbery that they shouldn’t have to provide information to the police, especially since they won’t be compensated for it. That is, quite simply, foolish. Nobody should expect to be paid for giving police pertinent information about a crime. Cooperating with police is everyone’s civic duty.

Information can be provided completely confidentially through Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345. Sometimes rewards are offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect, but more often than not the only reward is knowing you did the right thing.

So if you know anything that may be of value to police, just do the right thing: Report it. Don’t wait for someone to wave dollar bills in your face first.

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

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