The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

June 20, 2012

Cool it!

— Every year around this time, it seems the heat starts to make people in Hunt County go a little bit crazy.

OK, more than a little crazy. It seems to make some local folks go totally off the deep end of the zany pool.

This weekend a 26-year-old man was accused of brandishing a gun during a road-rage incident that happened Saturday night. According to a police report, the man fired several shots into the air on Wesley Street near the Walgreens store, then tossed his gun out of the car in an apparent bid to hide the evidence.

Now, we’ll be the first to admit that Wesley Street drivers make us go crazy, too. But rising to the level of road rage? And firing a gun into the air? That’s the point where driver frustration can quickly kill or seriously injure an innocent bystander.

This is just one example, though, of how people can too easily let their temper get out of control. Nearly every summer in Greenville there are reports of violence on the streets — shootings, stabbings and assaults — many of which are drug-related. But not all of them.

Whatever the cause, this is a problem that we need to fix as a community. There’s only so much the Greenville Police Department can do to be proactive about violence; more often than not, they can only respond to violence after it happens, when it’s too late to stop it.

And, make no mistake, Hunt County has a serious crime problem both in the city of Greenville and in rural areas surrounding it.

According to the FBI’s criminal statistics, Greenville has a violent crime rate that is well above average for a city our size. Rural Hunt County, too, has a well-known problem with methamphetamine use and manufacturing that fuels all kinds of other crimes.

While it’s easy for us as citizens to say fixing the crime problem is somebody else’s job — that’s why we have the Greenville Police Department and Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, after all — in reality, it’s everybody’s job to stop crime.

Communities that have made a big dent in their crime and drug problems all share one thing in common: cooperation.

Groups have got to work together to tackle an issue as big and diverse as crime in the community. Individuals have to watch out for each other and form neighborhood watch groups, whether formal or informal; businesses and community leaders have to support anti-drug efforts, such as those undertaken by DrugFree Greenville, to show their unity and provide funding to fight crime and drugs; and everyone has to work with law enforcement officers to build the relationships and feed the information needed to do their jobs properly.

If we want to make this a safer community, we’ve all got to be on the same team. We applaud the efforts of our local law enforcement agencies — which are comprised of some of the most dedicated, capable people in the community — and encourage everyone to take steps to make Hunt County safer.

Whether you donate your time volunteering with police programs or DrugFree Greenville, donate money to support anti-crime programs, or simply become more aware of your own surroundings in your neighborhood, we hope you’ll join others in making this a safer, more enjoyable place for us all to live.