Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / January 30, 1998

Incidents such as the burglary of a house reported on Somerset Street inLaPlace and the recently-released crime statistics in St. Charles Parishillustrate several things about crime in the River Parishes.

Crime has always been with us and will always be with us, even here inthe River Parishes. Not all types of crimes can be prevented orforestalled, even by the most technologically-advanced law enforcementagencies. So-called “crimes of passion,” including murder and rape, cannotbe absolutely prevented in any community of any size.

Certainly there are some preventable crimes, to a certain extent. It can bemade difficult to break into a home or business. Cars and bicycles can belocked. Cash can be put in safes to keep it out of the hands of potentialrobbers. However, as long as there are cars, there will be car thieves, andas long as there is money, there will be robbers.

As long as there is perversion, there will be sexual abuse. As long as thereare guns, knives and clubs, there will be armed robberies, rapes andmurders.

However, all is not lost. We do have advances in technology. Our lawenforcement agencies are putting greater police visibility as a highpriority. If the chances for crimes are lessened, crimes will be lessened.What remains is a necessary change in attitude. I grew up in a time,perhaps more innocent, when children were taught by parents and teachersthat police officers are there to help and protect. Murders and rapes andother violent crimes certainly happened, but the frequency seemed to beless than now.

People need to become partners with police to make the River Parishes anunpopular place to commit crime. They can do this by partnering with eachother as well, watching each other’s backs and reporting suspiciousactivity promptly to police.

Police have obligations, too. Corrupt police cannot and must not betolerated. Good police officers must be recognized, given authority andgiven respect, by the community and by their peers. Steps have been taken,but more needs to be to make law enforcement more of an honoredprofession.On Somerset, an alert citizen who told police resulted in two arrests. InSt. Charles Parish, as well as in St. John the Baptist and St. Jamesparishes, work is well under way to fight crime on every front.

Only with steps like these taken can the River Parishes’ crime problem bemore properly addressed and the possibility of violent crime minimized.

Leonard Gray is a regular columnist with L’Observateur.

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