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Dear Police, Just Be Honest with Us About Crime

Living in a small town that prides itself on being comfortable with leaving windows and doors unlocked is now just a dream.

I live in a small town that has recently been victim to a number of both car break-ins and home robberies this summer. Yet, until recently residents were ignorant of it. According to sources, those town officials who did know did not want to cause a panic.

In one of those incidents, a resident’s home was entered through a sliding back door which had been left unlocked. Many items were taken and with them the safety and security of the homeowner’s state of mind. When the discovery was made, two on-duty police officers were quick with their response time and she says she was told there had been other break-ins around town.  

This homeowner was rightly upset over the invasion of her home, the theft of her property and the violation of her privacy. Her teenage daughter couldn’t sleep, laid awake terrified anticipating the burglars return. She asked herself over and over: How did this happen in such a small town? And why didn’t she know about the other recent home invasions? Until now, most people felt comfortable leaving their doors and windows unlocked, especially during the long and breezy summer days.  

Now, any parent would take extra protective measures after such a violation of safety. Among such measures was the act of reaching out to neighbors to alert them to lock their doors and windows.

After posting her experience on her Facebook wall, within minutes she had nearly forty comments from neighbors and other town people. There was an immediate connection. Other residents began listing their own robbery experience and others they knew who had also been robbed. She was no longer alone. 

Whether there were five, 10, 15 or 20 robberies, how is it, that we as residents, didn’t know about a single one? Why find out through social media or our neighbors instead of through the people who we pay to protect us?  What is wrong with this picture?  There must be a better solution to this problem.

Phone calls were made to a few town officials, but the woman felt she received little support and encouragement. She was made to feel as if she was overreacting. I disagree. I grew up believing police leaders were there to Serve and Protect. You think the mindset would be, “Not on my watch,” or “Not in my town.”  

There were conflicting reports as to how many robberies had occurred in town over the summer. The woman decided to ask a few questions and discovered that if a taxpaying citizen wants to know exactly how many robberies occurred in their community, through the Freedom of Information Act, it is their legal right to know. But should taxpayers have to file legal requests to find out the police activity in town? I don’t think so.

Since most people in town knew what happened, I began asking their thoughts on the situation. Some felt her back door should have been locked. Some felt she was overreacting. Some felt the chief of police might be manipulating the number of robberies so residents won’t panic. Yet, the most common response I received was the necessity of informing residents of such incidents. 

After looking into it, some other local police departments post a daily log online. This is a simple and convenient way to communicate information to residents. Everything was listed from traffic stops to burglaries. It can even be done at a level of confidentiality; street names were listed (not house numbers), names were not mentioned for traffic stops, etc.  It was purely informational.  

If the community knows of such frequency (or infrequency) of robberies or any other criminal behavior, we can better protect ourselves and our neighbors.  If residents had known of these robberies in town, I believe more precaution for their own home protection would have been taken. By keeping it mute and under wraps, it only makes matters worse.  

Someone I know was burglarized. I can choose to keep the peace, smile, agree with others, even if I don’t. Or, I can venture off the manicured path, take a risk and speak what’s echoed in the hallways. If you live in a small town, doing either can be difficult.  

Observor September 06, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Kind of like how when Rudy Guliani in New York had the transit cops start arresting turnstile jumpers and it turned out the majority had outstanding warrants. People who commit big crimes are prone to commit little ones, too.
meowkats4 September 06, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Hey, I look daily at the Vernon Patch Log!!! I think we have have a lot going on here in a small town just yesterdays blotter shows 66 (calls) these include the 911 calls for medical, disturbances etc along with traffic stops! I pay very close attention to what is listed on my surrounding streets! A few months back many of us got on the Vernon Patch made a ruckus about problems in Rockville, saying we needed another sub- station for police right in the center of Rockville (we had one but, it closed up a few years back) Well, it is NOW open again and we have a patrol out and about! People have to start helping out their own communities, almost everyone has a cell phone some take pictures - well start using them, and start reporting if you see something report it! Just think it may be someone in trouble, you need to start getting involved/without putting yourself at risk is very important too! We still have those signs that say "Neighborhood Watch", who's watching?
Perry Robbin September 06, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Just to let everyone know, this post is specifically referring to the town of Suffield – many other towns have publicly available police blotters.
Saul Freedman January 07, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Cami, The police have no legal obligation to protect you from crimes. They exist to arrest the offenders. Please educate yourself. Saul
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