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In my time here at the paper, I have been on hand to watch local police officers track down burglars and escaped convicts, make drug busts, and chase down criminals through dark alleys - all right here in the streets of Shelby County.
At one time I had thought of the community as just a sleepy little town with a fetish for fancy horses. But now after being a part of the community for some time and weekly reading the police reports, I am convinced that drugs likely bring into the community as much money as Saddlebreds.
I don't say this to be sensational or to put the county in a bad light - lord, knows that I love it here, but I simply want to highlight the fact that crime is a serious issue here and that, if ignored, it will only get worse.
In the last 8 months, Shelby County has seen 20 businesses and four banks robbed at gunpoint. That's about three a month in a county of only about 34,000 people.
In the last several weeks, local law enforcement officers have been dealing with a rash of crime that can be seen in the recent headlines of this publication.
And while the police are doing what they can to combat crime, my fear is that many in the community will turn a blind eye to the problems in order to allow themselves to maintain their "Mayberry" assessment of the community.
And sadly, this isn't Mayberry any more.
I had to break this news to a sweet old woman last Wednesday about 10 minutes after CUB bank had been robbed.
While I was on the scene trying to gather information, police officers were searching the area for an armed white male that had robbed the bank and fled on foot. Due to the proximity in time, it was likely that he wasn't far away.
As I waited outside the bank, an elderly woman pulled in to do business. As she approached, I told her the bank was closed due to the robbery. I then told her that the man was still in the area and that it would be best if she got in her car and went home. I saw a look of horror and disbelief rush over her face.
"Oh, my. I had best be going then," she trembled.
As the woman drove away I was saddened not only that the bank had been robbed, but that this nice old lady didn't feel safe going to her bank in the middle of the day. Hopefully as the community is more informed about the problems that face us, more will be done to solve them.