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Sheriff’s office needs help to fight criminals

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless faces a tough challenge. He is essentially trying to fight more crime with significantly less resources than even just three years ago.

As we’ve pointed out before, the sheriff’s office is caught in a vicious cycle. The more people they arrest the more people who have to be housed in the Lawrence County Jail, driving expenses up for the department and forcing cuts just to stay afloat.

So where do you draw the line? How should the sheriff, whether it is Lawless or someone else, handle this? Should officers only arrest so many people and then stop? Should they make the determination of innocence or guilt and only arrest those who they believe to be guilty? Should they make their own decisions on the severity of the crime?

The answers for all these questions are no.

Sheriff Lawless asked the Lawrence County Commission to increase his budget, a significant amount of more than $1 million that will allow him to hire three additional officers and make other changes. This would be money well spent as it would help give the sheriff’s office a stronger presence in a county spanning more than 450 square miles.

At some point we have to come to the realization that we will have to invest in law enforcement and other programs in order to maintain the quality of life that makes our region so special.

That starts now.

We hope the county commissioners take a long, hard look at this, as well as dust off proposals that would merge the 911 center with the sheriff’s office and, ultimately, the Ironton dispatching.

Making these changes won’t be easy but doing the right thing is worth it.