I have been talking for some time about whether I should move from the area. I like the place and also like that I have a low house payment. The outdoor activities are awesome! However, what I have seen over the past year+ put serious questions in my mind on whether this is a safe place for me and my children. We are not talking about just because one person with sociopath tendencies got upset but a wider network of behaviors and serious lack of accountability.
First, it is important to make the argument that crimes impact community investment. When there are crimes it reduces the likelihood of return on investment (Rueda & Garcia-Perez, 2003). That means less jobs for local residents and less opportunities for the future of our children. The behavior I have seen I believe have an impact on investment in the long run.
I can say that I met most of the police officers in this town and most of them do a great job. However, the town doesn't attract a lot of investment. It could do much better but it doesn't. There isn't much desire to engage with outsiders and in turn the town continues to decline slowly year after year. Thus, in this case crime has a social context.
You can see some of that behavior in the close group of people who seem to create the center of the social life in town. You are either in or you are out. One must look the part, act the part, and be the part. That doesn't mean that there is wealth here or an abundance of famous people it means there is a culture of acceptance and rejection stemming from high school sports groups.
That creates a situation where outsiders are not really welcome and have no avenue because they weren't raised here. God forbid you tell someone they aren't allowed to do something or you enforce your boundaries. There may be an immediate attempt to gain support in this narrow group of people and encourage them to become proxies in harassment. At least that is what I experienced.
Yet the dysfunctional culture has an impact on local policing. Because these officers live in the community, want to get promoted, judges want to get re-elected, and so on and so forth they seem to follow the general trend of public opinion. The problem is that much could be based on dishonesty of a single individual, or a small group of individuals, that seek to gain something from exploiting a differences.
Its not something I've seen in other places. While the small town feel is great it is very difficult for outsiders to find a place. Most that have come to work at the hospitals and other places left within a few years. I'm sure there are statistics out there if one wants to dig through all the new names from local employers (Or new driver license in the area) and whether they are here a few years down the road.
So. we are left with a situation where if crimes are committed and there is no follow up on the crimes then where does that leave people. Part of me says this is where I was raised and I should stay here and fight for what I believe is right. The other part of me, including some close friends, say you should leave before someone successfully does something serious to you. Considering that one of the people involved in the "gang" is an officer that is a serious problem.
I might need to wait to get pulled over and have someone throw some meth in my car or something. I'm not sure how the tricks work in today's world. ...but based on a few actions and comments from people in the general public it looks like that is a plausible concern.
The problem is that I have this lingering belief that right is right and wrong is wrong. If we all ran when things got tough to somewhere else then racism, bigotry, and criminality wins. We would be cowards and people with ill intent would have their way. Our nation would continue to decline.
The other side of the argument that it isn't our responsibility. That is why we pay judges, law enforcement officials, and politicians. That means they must be willing to do the right thing even if the behavior wasn't put on YouTube and there isn't a public outcry. It means they must act with integrity beyond what helps their career or what is known to the public.
So I can say that I like almost all of the officers and believe they have the best intent for the community. Yet...what happened is practically public information because the perpetrators bragged about it and it would take very little effort to investigate. I believe most of those officers might not understand my background and children but they do think I'm a descent person. My interactions are positive and I try and help the community through encouraging a local business, investment in the area and Firefighting (So far I haven't had a big problem yet but some are definitely aware).
Because of what has been said there will be differences between those who met me and those who have obtained their information from the rumor pipeline. Therein is part of the problem. Lack of critical thinking and lack of an investigation with formal research logic being used. Much is based on trying to fit into a dysfunctional network.
So I'm thinking about what I am going to do. For now...I'm going to stick to the truth and see what happens. Trust me...I know that the truth isn't worth much to some people. Right and wrong have been so watered down that few understand the difference. Yet, I have this small spark of rational optimism that comes up and says if you say the right things, you do the right things, and you continue to push for the right things the world will eventually respond. Its a good karma thing!
It would be very much easier to sell my house and walk...but I don't think it fits well with my belief in my country and the sacrifices I have made, and my grand parents have made, to support the essential freedoms of our country.