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Don't jump to conclusions about Greene County's crime ratePosted Thursday, February 19, 2009, at 6:54 AM
Do you live in a neighborhood where you are afraid to step outside your own door after dark?
Do you worry that your teen could get shot while walking down the street with friends?
Every morning when your little one takes off for school, do you wonder if they'll make it there with the lunch money?
Do you avoid driving around the courthouse square at night because something bad could happen if you have to stop for a red light?
Probably not if you live in Greene County.
But in many other places, people do have these constant worries and they do avoid even driving through certain neighborhoods, let alone stopping.
This viewpoint, which is my once-a-week chance to voice my own personal opinion, is fueled by comments left online that Greene County has so much terrible, awful crime -- more than anyplace else, and it's just horrible. And then they cite all of these incidents that have been in the paper as proof that our county has more bad stuff going on than other places.
This is faulty logic. The fact that there seems to be more of this kind of stuff in this local paper, or any other small paper, does not mean our county's crime rate is higher than Indianapolis or any other city. It does mean we're reporting more of it.
Imagine a reporter working the Indy crime scene beat ...
Do you think that their assignment would be to write some kind of story about every single felony charge that's filed in Marion County? There's no way -- absolutely no way.
Do you think that every single person that's arrested in Indy and all of Marion County gets their name on page one or two? The answer is obviously no.
Would that reporter pick up every single case, criminal and civil, that's filed in Marion County and list it in the paper? No.
There's a big, big, big difference in what goes into larger dailies and what goes into smaller community papers.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both and I'm not offering an opinion on whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that smaller papers, like this one, cover more of what goes on. I am saying, wishing, people would take how much we cover into account before making a judgment about how much crime there is in Greene County.
I'm currently assigned to cover these things, and here's the bar that has been set -- every transfer of (real estate) property that is made in this county will appear in a list on page two. So does every small claims case, and every divorce, and every other civil case that's filed here. So does every traffic ticket that's written in Greene County. Every single criminal case that's filed, including minor misdemeanor cases, is also listed on page two.
If you get booked into the Greene County Jail, your name is going to appear in the jail log no matter who you are or why you're in there.
Plus, my assignment is to check into every single felony charge that's filed -- every single one! And in most cases, write a story.
If you lived in Marion County, you would not be getting this kind of coverage -- it's just not possible there, but you get it here.
In many cases, this can be a disadvantage for prosecutors, public defenders, attorneys and defendants. But it's an advantage for members of the community -- a reader in Greene County knows a whole lot more about all the big, and little, things that go on around them than a reader in Marion County.
So here's my viewpoint -- there's no more crime in Greene County than there is in Marion County. Actually, I believe there's a whole lot less. And the fact that you read about lots of these stories in the local paper means we're not picking and choosing which felonies you find out about -- they're all in here.
I wish people would take the extent of local coverage into consideration before they jump to conclusions about how much crime there is in this area and attempt to compare crime in Greene County with crime in the big city.
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Anna Rochelle is editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the office at 812-847-4487.
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