THE MAYOR’S REPORT: Addiction, crime and fire prevention

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

So how was your summer? Yes, autumn has arrived. Wasn’t it a great time in Greencastle this past summer? Plenty of porch sittin’ ahead as we’ll have some mild temperatures. May it be a slow autumn season. Take a break with me and grab a cup of coffee as I want to visit a side of our community that few of you see.

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Greencastle is a safe town and I give the credit to our police officers and our citizens. What does “if you see something, say something” really mean? Quite simple. If you are seeing something that is concerning, call 911. Several weeks ago, our officers arrested a man just passing through town who allegedly was upset about a family matter, started consuming alcohol, brandished a high caliber handgun and started shooting. Thankfully, no citizens or police officers were injured. Over the past two months our officers have been involved and made arrests regarding crimes against children. The Greencastle Police Department is actively involved with a variety of investigations as well as performing police duties 24 hours a day. Typically one or two officers are working. Some days, a lone officer is busy going to calls while trying to follow-up on previous complaints. This can be quite challenging while trying to monitor traffic, investigate motor vehicle crashes, and perform a variety of other police functions.

Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

It was nearly 50 years ago that I took a criminology course. Criminology is the study of crime. A few years later, I entered the real world of law enforcement and quickly realized that abuse and addiction cause a lot of crime. This includes driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, causing serious and fatal motor vehicle crashes; crimes against persons; family violence; thefts, burglaries, robberies, etc. Any jail or prison survey of those incarcerated would indicate a majority have addiction issues. I did my share of bad news notifications to families over the years that could have been avoided. The families would be affected for the rest of their lives.

Greencastle is not immune from what causes crime here. Be it the use of heroin or other narcotics or the abuse of alcohol, it costs our taxpayers plenty at the local, county and state level. When I was a DARE (drug abuse resistance education) officer here, one of the lessons regarded avoiding “gateway drugs.” I can’t believe that any politician would believe in legalizing gateway drugs such as marijuana that would cost society much, much more than the taxes received. Unfortunately, drug abuse happens here as the rest of the nation. Getting professional and/or faith-based help is so important as these lives are hurting. If you have a loved one with these challenges, I pray they may seek out and receive the help they need. Meanwhile, I say thank you for our law enforcement officers who protect us every day and every night. I’ve walked in their shoes.

Fire Prevention Week is just around the corner! The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.” as the theme for Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, reinforcing the critical importance of developing a home escape plan with all members of the household and practicing it regularly. In addition, this October represents the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, the nation’s longest-running public health observance on record. The Rescue Hose Company’s open house is Saturday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. Hope you can attend. Do me a favor, after reading this article, go test your smoke detectors and change batteries as indicated.

Finally, during these challenging inflationary times, please shop small and support our locally owned businesses that support the community. Now … I’m waiting for those warm autumn temperatures so my family can enjoy a few more weeks of porch sittin’. Otherwise, time for a back yard campfire! Remember, here in G-A, we are certainly blessed.