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Don't jump to conclusions about Greene County's crime rate

Posted 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.


Comments
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Very good article. I've seen other places in the U.S., lived in a few of them, and was always glad to get back to Greene County, where I can walk the streets without fear, send my kids to school without too much apprehension, and not have to worry if I forget to lock my garage while gone to the grocery store or Walmart. Keep it up, and credit to law enforcement throughout the county.

-- Posted by Frankly Speaking on Mon, Feb 23, 2009, at 3:56 PM

Globe-- we are talking about two different problems. Brain drain because we don't offer jobs, I will agree with you on. That is a problem and always has been. Nobody seems to have a great idea on how to fix that problem yet. Westgate might help until Obama cuts the defense budget. But what I am referring to is those that choose to badmouth where we live because of the crime rate. We are much safer here than in a bigger city and if they want to badmouth it and put it down then I stand by my first comment...move! Whether we have jobs here or not, will not change the type of crimes we have here. Meth, domestic abuse, and sex crimes will still remain. In fact, more jobs equals more people and more problems. I welcome anything that can bring more jobs to this area but don't kid yourself, the bottom feeders that cause the problems are still going to be here. Be thankful that we live in area that doesn't have the amount of crimes and crime rates that other areas have.

-- Posted by POP on Mon, Feb 23, 2009, at 7:02 AM

Pop:

And, my point is - most, not all, but most of our brightest and finest, take your advice - they move! Not much of a solution is it? Anyone can follow your advice and move. It is far easier than staying and attempting to make change for the better. But then you obviously know more about that than I do!

When we lose our brightest and finest, year after year, what does that leave us with? Someone that can only suggest more of the same?

-- Posted by Globe&Anchor on Sun, Feb 22, 2009, at 3:32 PM

Globe&Anchor-They move because of jobs or lack therof. That's not a new issue. Nobody on here has claimed this area is perfect and I dont think you will find anyone that moved from here, because the crime rate is terrible. My point is if someone thinks it's so bad here...move! Dont' stay in an area that they hate and spend all their energy bad mouthing it.

-- Posted by POP on Sat, Feb 21, 2009, at 8:02 PM

In my youth, an elderly gentleman from Solsberry told me an absolute truth: "Anytime you have people, you are going to have problems, the more people, the more problems." That enlightened statement is applicable to criminal problems as well.

Greene County is a great place to live, but we have our fair share of scum bags. Illegal drugs, incest, molestation of children, etc. Often the crimes that makes one fearful of a quiet stroll on the dark streets of one's community are not the crimes that are the most heinous.

I agee with Anna, there is a lot less crime in Greene County than there is in Marion County. There is a lot less of everything in Greene County than there is in Marion County.

Plus, there are a lot more native born Greene Countians living somewhere else now than those that have elected to remain. Those "arteries out of here" are well used. They did move! Why is that if our community is so perfect?

-- Posted by Globe&Anchor on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 6:54 PM

We lived in a good neighborhood in Indianapolis for eighteen years and have recently moved back to Greene County. Since we have returned I've found that we can walk anywhere, at anytime, and feel safe. Our grandkids can walk to our house anytime they want with few worries. I have noticed that I'm not afraid to open the door at night anymore and I don't worry when my wife sits on the porch to read late at night. We enjoyed living in Indianapolis all those years, but I can't imagine having to move back. We are home and we love it. Greene County has it's problems, but for my wife and I it's like meeting an old friend after a lot of years apart.

-- Posted by RLU on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 9:30 AM

Very good article Anna..I get so tired of people talking about how bad Greene county is..some dont have a clue what really goes on outside the county line..as most of it is NOT reported in papers, ect. and my biggest question is..IF they think Greene Co is so bad..why dont they move?

-- Posted by shadows on Fri, Feb 20, 2009, at 4:35 AM

I feel safer here than any other place that I've lived...Which is why I chose to move my family here instead of Los Angeles. I don't worry about the things I used to. We love this place!

-- Posted by Renee71 on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 6:43 PM

Anna, I agree with your article. My only beef with any of this stuff is the amount of details the GCDW decides to include in their articles. There have been several articles over the last few years that have included some very graphic details that I don't believe need to be in there for the general public to read about. Young people read this stuff too. I know your going to say that it is public record but very few people will go to the courthouse to read the public record. The graphic details are the only issue I have with it.

By the way Greene County is an excellent place to live and if someone thinks the crime rate is too high for them they can find several major arteries out of here that will lead them to a much "safer" bigger city.

-- Posted by POP on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 10:52 AM

I totally agree!! Very good article.

-- Posted by Rambler 85 on Thu, Feb 19, 2009, at 8:10 AM


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Anna Rochelle is editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us or by calling the office at 812-847-4487.