To read some of the comments on The Covington News’ Facebook page this week, you’d be convinced our county has already gone to hell in a handbasket.
The doomsday crowd had a field day with the story of a kidnapping of a man in Newton County. The victim was pistol-whipped and taken to a Wells Fargo branch in Covington, where he was ordered inside to withdraw money. Police responded to what everyone first thought was an armed robbery, but soon became apparent was a case of a man in desperate need of help.
Quick work by the bank staff and law enforcement prevented what could have been a real disaster.
But some of the comments followed the same kind of theme we always see on our social media when there’s a bad crime story.
“This use to (sic) a safe and fun place to live,” one person wrote.
“Covington has gone down the drain in the past 15 years,” another posted.
Often, crime stories merit reactions suggesting we’ve become “another DeKalb County.” And while crime is definitely an issue here, I would propose taking a minute to relax.
Covington and Newton County are not cesspools. Not by a long shot.
Yes, there are places with crime. You’re going to find those anywhere. We live in a fallen world and no place is immune.
Until Jesus comes back, we’re going to see this and we’re going to see more of it.
Let me tell you who’s reading these comments: economic decision-makers.
The people who decide where to bring big businesses visit restaurants and lurk on Facebook pages. They want to get a sense of what the community thinks about itself, and if people are convinced their hometown is crime-ridden, well, why would they want to come there themselves?
Oh, and I’m sorry to break up the pity party, but most categories of major crimes are down in Covington compared to 2002.
Yes, robberies were up a third (24 in 2016, the most recent year statistics were available, compared to 18). But assaults were down 13 percent. Thefts were down 9 percent. And murder remains a crime — here, as it is most places — where you’re by far most likely to be a victim at the hands of someone you already know.
That all comes at a time when the population of Covington grew by an estimated 30 percent between 2000 and 2017.
I know crime is an issue. Sheriff Ezell Brown and police Chief Stacey Cotton have staffs doing their dead-level best to eliminate it, but it’s just not going to happen. Instead, I appreciate what they’re doing to keep us as safe as possible, and hope we are giving them every resource reasonable to make us even safer.
But I’m not going to quit coming into the city for work every day. Instead I’ll take reasonable precautions and continue to live my life, and suggest you do the same. We can’t hole up in a bunker somewhere, as that’s just no way to live — nor is there any reason to do so.David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @scoopclemons.