Since the N.C. Department of Justice released its annual report last week that shows Robeson County remains No. 1 in the state in violent crime, the carnage has continued.
There have been two murders in this county since Saturday, the victims being a Fairmont man who was gunned down in his yard, and a Lumberton police officer who was shot and killed while trying to take a suspect into custody.
When will it end?
We always caution against reading too much into the annual crime report because it depends on “reported” crime, which can be easily manipulated. But the report does have utility in its ability to provide a bigger picture.
We doubt any devoted reader of The Robesonian would be surprised to learn that Robeson County is No. 1 in the state in violent crime and No. 3 in property crime. The duty of reporting that crime falls onto this newspaper, and leads to the frequent — and false — accusation that we are only interested in bad news because it sells. We would prefer to sell no newspapers today rather than a million that report the death of a Lumberton police officer.
We don’t look for bad news; it finds us.
Upon closer examination of the state crime report, a bit of good news can be found. If the numbers are to be believed, the rate of violent crime in this county dropped by 13 percent from the previous year, but we still maintain a pretty unhealthy lead over No. 2 Durham County.
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey pointed toward a sorry economy and the resulting lack of jobs as fueling the mayhem. We are sure that is a factor, but believe the absence of jobs is more likely to contribute to property crime than violence. But that line is blurry.
We have our own list of contributing factors that we will present, with drugs and alcohol being at the top of it. Following, in whatever order you prefer, are: poverty; kids dropping out of school without a degree or a skill; children having children; homes without a father figure; the glorification of violence by some subcultures; overworked and understaffed law enforcement agencies; and a judicial system that is overwhelmed, with too heavy a caseload and too few prison cells to stash the prisoners. We are sure we have left more than a few out.
We will now answer the rhetorical question that we asked in paragraph No. 3.
We don’t know when it will all end, leaving us only to shake our heads and watch as the body count continues to climb, and lives — those of both the innocent and the guilty — are tossed away for no reason at all.
Robeson County is in crisis. And if there is a plan, we would love to hear it.