With my mouth wide open, I did not have to thumb through very many pages of The Daily World to make me wonder whether or not Mr. Johnson and I were indeed living in the same community. The very council meeting in which Johnson made his statement Mayor James Valley gave a report of an incident in which officers were fired upon by a fleeing burglary suspect who returned shots seriously injuring the suspect.
"Holy popcorn Batman, there's no crime in Gotham City," cried Robin, The Boy Wonder to his partner, The Caped Crusader. No, I am not reaching back into my bag of nostalgia about the good old days by quoting a comic book character. However, I thought I had taken a trip in the Time Tunnel last week when I read on the front page of this newspaper that council member Eugene Johnson asked the paper to publish his opinion that Helena-West Helena was not experiencing a "crime wave."
With my mouth wide open, I did not have to thumb through very many pages of The Daily World to make me wonder whether or not Mr. Johnson and I were indeed living in the same community. The very council meeting in which Johnson made his statement Mayor James Valley gave a report of an incident in which officers were fired upon by a fleeing burglary suspect who returned shots seriously injuring the suspect. At the same meeting, council member Joe St. Columbia reported that Arwood's Jewelry Store experienced a break-in, which netted intruders several thousand dollars worth of watches and other items.
On Monday, May 19, the Helena-West Helena Police Department's newly formed K-9 Unit cornered a suspect allegedly involved in a break-in and vandalism incident at Central High School. The district buildings sustained several thousand dollars in damages. Rarely a week goes by that the Phillips County Sheriff's Department and the 1st Judicial Drug District Task does not report a major drug bust.
On Tuesday, a Helena-West Helena man was shot in the head while standing on a street corner. These are the crimes that appeared on the front page of this newspaper during the past week. This does not include the so-called "petty crimes" that appear in our daily police report or the fact that two Daily World employees were recently victimized by home intrusions. One has decided to leave the "conveniences" of the city for the "safety and solitude" of rural living.
"Docile" and "petty" were two words used by city officials to address the crime problem in Helena-West Helena. Both could be construed as offensive if you are a victim of any type of crime. Docile is defined as "passive, quiet and submissive." Petty means "insignificant, trivial and unimportant." None of the crime that I described above fits either of those definitions.
Johnson said Helena-West Helena's crime is docile compared to Memphis. We are not living in Memphis. Comparing our crime to other Arkansas communities our size quickly reveals there is a problem. I can assure Mr. Johnson that none of the break-ins or shootings that have occurred were either passive or quiet.
Mayor Valley said petty crime is a problem here. Tell that person that had their $2,000 plasma TV stolen from their home that crime was insignificant and trivial. It took a lot of hours of hard work to buy that TV. It should make everyone angry that someone can just walk in off the street and take his or her hard-earned possessions.
One comment was made that people are just asking to get things stolen because they leave things in plain sight in parked vehicles. True, common sense should prevail, but no one is begging to become a crime statistic. I am sure that Mayor Valley and councilman Johnson remember a day when crime was not something we worried about on a daily basis. We could leave the keys in our cars and our homes unlocked and return with every thing right where you left it. Those days will never return thanks primarily to our staggering economy and the drug culture.
It's ironic that Bob Kane created Batman in an era when crime was something of a science fiction nature. There was a time when Robin could have told the Dark Knight there is no crime in Gotham City. Not anymore.