The police report from a recent incident in my neighborhood is milquetoast in its description of the event. It says officers were called in reference to shots being fired into an occupied dwelling.
The family dog was dead and the burglar alarm had been tripped. There were no suspects and no known motive.
It lays out the facts as the police officers saw them, but it doesn’t explain the feeling such an encounter imbues in the group of people who live nearby.
Many of the people in our small little neighborhood are upset and rightly so.
They say things like, “This shouldn’t be happening here.”
They are completely wrong on that point.
This shouldn’t be happening anywhere, or, it could be happening everywhere.
Just earlier this week, a video on social media showed a car stopping in the middle of Reed Road. Two people got out, fired guns rapidly and the car sped away.
A few months ago, a car stopped in the Lake Manor neighborhood and passengers randomly fired a pistol into a house.
In none of these cases were arrests made or perpetrators really even sought.
Sure, cops can arrive on scene and tell someone they have an Idea who is doing the crime, but it all seems to end there with little further action.
It comes home to me when I remember seeing dozens of houses robbed by the same group of men who were only arrested after robbing the district attorney’s house. The crime at his home was also the only charges brought against them at their trial and ultimate conviction.
And, here we sit, huddled in our houses wondering when the next gun will blast a hole in our backdoor or fly through the footwell of our car as we drive down Washington Avenue.
It’s not just happening here in Greenville. We hear regular reports of the same happening in Cleveland and other cities in the Delta.
The situation begs several questions:
• Is this a growing threat;
• Are these incidents randomly isolated;
• Should I be armed at all times;
• What can be done; and
• Most importantly, are we safe?
The only question I know the final answer to is the last one and it’s, “no.”
If people are randomly shooting into houses and stopping cars in the middle of a major road to fire multiple rounds seemingly willy-nilly, we aren’t safe.
So far, these shootings have killed a dog, but they’ve done more to shatter the psyche of the people in Greenville.
When the number of days that you do hear gunfire in the night outnumber the days you don’t hear gunfire, you have to wonder if we’ve reached a point of no return.
Can the new police chief the city is currently searching for take the reigns of the city’s force and put an end to random gunfire and murder in the city? I’m not so sure.
Police, by their very nature, are reactors to crime.
Many would point to eliminating poverty in the area as a sure-fire method for eliminating such violent crime.
There’s always been poverty in the Delta, but there hasn’t always been this level of random gunfire permeating the city.
Some point to the leadership in our city and county and ask for them to do something.
Criminals who randomly fire into a house don’t care what the mayor or the president of the county board of supervisors says, though they need to say something.
I can write all the columns and editorials I want decrying this behavior and it won’t change it one iota.
It will only change when there is an incentive to not participate in this behavior.
The incentive can either be positive or negative.
If every one of the perpetrators knew shortly after shooting a gun in the city limits they would be arrested and taken to jail, it might curtail the number of incidents, but that isn’t happening.
Random crimes, by their nature, are almost impossible stop. Cops and cameras simply can’t and shouldn’t be everywhere at all times.
Where we, and the greater community are at a loss, is finding the positive incentive to not creating a shooting gallery in the once quiet neighborhoods of Greenville.
The person who could do that would have more impact on the city of Greenville than any elected official or bureaucrat.
That person or idea may already be here in Greenville. I just hope it’s not too late to change a terribly worrying trend.
Jon Alverson is proud to be publisher and editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. Write to him at email@example.com call him at 335-1155.