The topic of fear and crime has generated significant interest over the years and research has not come to any one single conclusion on what actually is the fear of crime. The fact that more people experience the fear of crime than victimization is a debatable topic. Maybe we can at least accept, to some degree, that when we separate fear and crime, fear can be summarized as an unpleasant emotion and/or perception derived from experiences felt, seen and/or heard about. Although the existence of fear is understandable yet unfortunate, fear is real and manifests itself in our wide-ranging lifestyles. These are often illustrated in numerous ways, such as how we live. Whether it is the number of locks we have on our doors or the conservatisms’ of our spending habits to assure a “nest egg” is in place, we all prepare for and cope with our fears.
When we speak of crime, we should relate it to acts that violate written laws and ordinances intended to govern our actions as a people. Naturally, we combine crime with victimization and with the idea of being a victim of crime originates personalization that is linked to fear. No one wants to be a victim. Therefore, we act in ways to minimize, if not eliminate, ourselves from becoming a victim. Fear, when linked to crime, can often determine the way we live our lives. Unfortunately, too often our fear of being victimized by a crime is greater than the actual occurrence of crime in our neighborhoods. So lets give ourselves a bit of relief by saying that the feeling of fear is not our fault.
The experiences of all things good and bad are placed before us in abundance by various information outlets. As Chief of the Gaston County Police, one aspect of my responsibilities is to provide you, through various forms of communication, some balance between fear of crime, the frequency of its occurrence and our ability to apprehend offenders who commit those crimes. I would suggest that doing so reassures you that your Gaston County Police Department is completely engaged in the battle of reducing crime and victimization in Gaston County. We work with diligence to solve criminal acts and reduce victimization so that it is not at the top of your concerns.
In fairness and respect for all law enforcement officials within Gaston County, when referring to crime and law enforcement efforts, the Gaston County Police Department and its citizens, the following statistics only represent the jurisdiction(s) for which your county police department is responsible. If we took a comparative glimpse at some crime statistics that include only those North Carolina counties that boarder Gaston County with a broader scope of how we rank at the state level (North Carolina), U.S. southern states level and the United States as a whole, here is what we would find:
|Agency Name||Violent Crimes per 10,000 persons||Violent Crime Clearance Rates||Property Crime per 10,000 persons||Property Crime Clearance Rates|
|Gaston Co. Police Dept.||24.49||88.14||130.22||44.94%|
|Cleveland Co. Sheriff’s Office||2.86||77.78||170.09||27.50%|
|Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Office||10.43||84.72||174.14||25.46%|
|Char-Meck Police Dept.||63.12||46.00||378.85||20.49%|
|State of N.C.||33.95||58.02||316.64||27.74%|
|U.S. Southern States||41.61||48.90||312.11||21.00%|
These statistics concerning crime and clearance rates give a fair view of how jurisdictions served by the Gaston County Police look from a comparative perspective. We could surmise by those statistics that we are doing well in the battle against crime and victimization in Gaston County. However, it’s not enough. Speaking as Chief, and for the members of the County Police Department, we are dedicated to analyzing and adopting practices that further reduce crime and the fear of crime from Gaston County.
It is fair to say that the frequency and types of crime that occur are predicated on many opportunistic factors to include geography, population and to some degree, the efficacy of a police departments and apathy or attentiveness of its citizens they serve. Although the complete absence of fear and crime is not a reality, there are still fundamental ways we can dig deeper at moving forward together in an effort to reduce crime and the fear that it imposes. I like to use the acronym T.A.L.K.
Tell police what’s going on in your neighborhood Attend community watch meetings Listen to all sides before passing judgment Know your neighbors and their habits
The value of this acronym is that it encourages communication with both neighbors and police which arms both of us (police and citizens) with information and opportunities to impact the potential for crime in our neighborhoods. As Chief of Police, I encourage you to TALK more.
James Buie Chief, Gaston County Police