Crime must be priority

Published 10:00 am Thursday, September 3, 2009

The problem is clear: Lawrence County is facing a rapidly increasing drug and crime problem that is devastating families, draining financial resources and destroying our quality of life.

But, believe it or not, the solution is almost just as obvious: More police, more severe penalties and better rehabilitation programs.

So where is the hangup? Money.

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Fixing the county’s problems won’t be an easy solution and it certainly won’t be cheap.

But residents seem to be in agreement that something has to be done and it has to be done now.

For the most part, Lawrence County’s law enforcement agencies are doing a good job with limited resources. The problem is that there just isn’t enough money to go around and fighting crime is an expensive proposition.

But that is where our elected officials must step in and do what they were “hired” by the public to do: Lead.

Voters and taxpayers have overwhelmingly said they don’t want to pay more taxes or fees — regardless of how the money will be used.

In large part this comes from the general perception that not enough is being done with the resources that are already in place. And taxpayers can certainly make a legitimate argument that this is true.

Our elected leaders have to look at each and every service it provides and ask if this is what taxpayers want or if these can be sacrificed to be used elsewhere.

The clearest example is consolidating 911 with the sheriff’s office and the Ironton Police Department. At the very least this could put more officers on the roads.

Everything government does should be examined.

Should the county be in the ambulance business? Should the city be in the garbage collection business? Can administrative type offices operate on a part-time basis? Can highly paid supervisors be asked to retire and positions not filled? Should government employees be asked to pay more of their health insurance?

We don’t know the answers to all these questions.

But the taxpayers need to know that our leaders are at least asking them.