Good information is priceless.
That is why most of what people read and hear is worthless.
Journalist and entrepreneur James Daly said, “You can't be distracted by the noise of misinformation.” But most people can’t tell the difference between noise and information today.
Your Facebook friends and coffee shop pals aren’t really lying to you. They are just telling a story from one perspective. That seems to be happening more and more around here and it is frustrating for Tyler Brewer, Augusta’s Director of Public Safety who oversees both firefighters and police officers here.
Everyone appreciates firefighters when it is 10 degrees or 110 degrees outside and they are risking their lives trying to save a life or someone’s property.
But the nature of police work makes those officers less lovable by definition. Firefighters don’t write speeding tickets or make arrests.
But Augusta’s police do a very good job, according to Brewer, and it bothers him when someone implies otherwise.
According to Brewer, statistics show that the number of burglaries and drug reports that end in arrests compares very favorably to other departments.
Some of his frustration comes from posts on social media sites complaining about drug or burglary activity in an area that isn’t called in to 911 or reported to an officer until a few days later.
That doesn’t give his officers a chance to solve a problem.
“Facebook can be a positive solution based site if people would use it that way,” Brewer said.
Some of the incidents Brewer refers to include some drug activity in a few homes around an intersection in the middle of town and some burglaries that happened recently.
“We have had 57 burglaries to date,” Brewer said. “We had 51 last year with no serial burglaries.”
It should be noted during 2012, approximately one dozen of the 57 reported burglaries were attributed to two serial burglars who have, or will have, charges pending. If you take those out of the mix, Augusta actually experienced fewer burglaries in 2012 as compared to 2011.
He said one man was recently arrested in a string of about a half dozen of those crimes and charges could be filed soon in another handful of related cases.
He said more of those thefts have been crimes of opportunity where burglars stole copper wire from major construction sites.
With fewer officers than in previous years, the police are stretched thin trying to keep the city safe. They can’t be expected to be security guards on construction sites on top of normal duties.
Page 2 of 2 - Brewer said the small area of drug activity has also been addressed successfully. Some of the community policing tactics they use are very effective in solving and preventing crimes but not as effective in keeping information confidential.
“We sent out fliers and worked with landlords in the area to keep people informed about how to prevent this type of activity,” Brewer said. “That makes it seem like there is a big crime problem when really it’s just a few transient residents who rent houses here for a few months.”
I agree with Brewer that his departments do a great job of protecting Augusta – especially for the relatively small investment we make thanks to active volunteer firefighter and reserve police programs.
Instead of posting something online about crime in your area, call the police and let them know about it.
Then you can post something about how nice it was to see a problem in your neighborhood cleaned up.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Daily Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.