We think of the victim(s) as the person(s) against whom a crime has been committed. This is true, of course, but victimization often happens to the victim’s family, and friends, etc. They suffer as they all try to carry the emotional fallout of a crime and the victimization.
In any case, whether the victim has been assaulted, robbed, burglarized or otherwise taken advantage of, there will be stress and emotional scars with which to deal. Some of us, though, seem to get our lives back to normalcy very quickly, while others have a rocky road to travel for some time.
When people come home and discover a burglary has taken place, they often say they feel they have been violated, in a very personal way. Intrusion into someone’s home is an invasion into a most private space. The sanctity of our home is considered almost holy by most of us.
Our right to privacy in our homes is provided in our nation’s Constitution. We are a nation of laws. The nation’s law enforcers cannot enter your home unless they have a legal search warrant signed by a judge, unless otherwise invited. (There are a few exceptions.)
The BCSO deputies and I take it personally when a burglary occurs. We know how emotionally and economically devastating a burglary can be to the victim(s).
We work daily to keep burglaries from happening, and when one does we try to solve it to quickly bring the burglar to justice. It is a good feeling to solve burglaries and to recover property that has been stolen.
We also deal with a small percentage of reported burglaries which are false claims. Sometimes drug abusers will report their prescriptions stolen. The report is simply a ruse to get their prescription refilled. What has really happened is the person has taken or sold most of their prescriptions. We have a way to deal with these reports and these people. Charges of filing a false report can be brought against them.
Over the years most of our home burglaries were committed by white males in their late teens to early 30s. By the time most of them turned 30 years old, it began to dawn on them that crime doesn’t pay. Many, by their late 20s or early 30s, have been caught several times and have served more than one prison sentence. Some have served rather lengthy prison sentences, and are no longer a threat to anyone’s privacy, nor able to steal property.
Many others who were once burglars and thieves have matured and are now living productive lives. From time to time I will run into some of these men who I once chased years ago. It is also a good feeling to know people change and you have had a part in the change.
In the last few years, we have seen more older burglars and thieves. More people in their 40s and 50s are becoming involved in burglarizing and stealing. Also, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of arrests of females involved in burglaries and thefts.
So, the homeowners are the primary victims in a burglary, while the rest of the family and close circle of friends are also victims.
Yet, there are other types of victims, such as the family members of the burglars, themselves. There are good, law-abiding citizens who have tried to rear their children properly. Somehow, their teaching and training has fallen on deaf ears. When someone’s son or daughter is arrested for a felony or for drunk driving, the whole family suffers the shame and disgrace of the situation.
Some people who never have experienced this type of situation with a son or daughter being arrested will react very poorly at the news of their child’s wrongdoing. Many mothers or fathers will vehemently deny their son or daughter would do such a thing. Many times they have become loud and very rude to the deputy, only to learn their son or daughter was caught red-handed, or had confessed to the wrongdoing.
Our mission at the BCSO in part is to prevent and solve crimes. Our goal is to get at the truth wherever the truth may lead. We want to prosecute the criminal, but we also want to justify the innocent.
If possible, we want to help restore people and families in our community who seek to do right. I believe you will also find this attitude with the people in the District Attorney’s Office and with the rest of the judicial system. We are here to help the victims on both sides of the coin, so to speak.
The scoffer would take issue with me, but I am still hopeful for our future, especially here in Bradley County. All of us who have lived here any length of time know what we have in our county. The many people joining our ranks, almost daily, settle here because they see what we see, a part of America where you can raise your family and work in peace and safety. It is a place where people are still respectful and there is still hope of living the good life.
Every resident has a part in keeping Bradley County peaceful and safe. I am asking each person to report suspicious activity to the Sheriff’s Office. If you are unsure about whether to call or not, you can at least write down a tag number, description of a car or people, and the date and time when the activity occurred. You will be able to share this information with deputies if you learn a crime has been committed.
I also encourage residents to get acquainted with the deputies who work in their area or zone of the county. This will become easier, soon, as we implement a renewed effort to prevent and reduce crime in our communities (more about that later).
I would like to have all of Bradley County as one big Neighborhood Watch. Neighbor looking out for neighbor and business person looking out for business person, etc. This can be done without being obtrusive, or being accused of minding someone else’s business.
Also, we must continually put our best foot forward, because we are in close proximity to the metro Chattanooga area. We are in effect part of metro Chattanooga and potentially subject to the inner-city crimes of that area being spread to Bradley County. It is a priority we keep these crimes away from our communities. I believe we are up to the task with our well-trained and experienced deputies and with the cooperation of our residents, countywide.