Budget cuts: Some Lawrence Co. residents seeking own means of self-protection

Although gun ban extremists often suggest that rural people have no need to bear arms for self-defense because crime rates are low where they live, the Ironton Tribune is reporting that area residents have much to be concerned about when it comes to crime these days.

From the story:

    They say when it rains, it pours and perhaps no one can understand the truth of that adage right now better than residents in the Village of Athalia.

    A week ago, the village's police department was closed in a cost-cutting move. A few days later, village officials turned out the street lights because there was no money to pay the bill.

    Now, residents are up in arms because of reports that an alleged child molester is moving into the small community. Athalia residents say any one of the three issues is a cause for concern. Together, no police, no street lights and fear for safety is a cocktail for disaster.

    All across Lawrence County, residents are concerned about budget cuts that have resulted in either law enforcement layoffs or have prevented their communities from hiring badly needed additional officers.

    This year the villages of Athalia, Proctorville and South Point have all laid off police officers - although Proctorville's force deduction was due to decreased traffic in the village, Mayor Jim Buchanan said.

    Other municipalities, including Ironton, Chesapeake, Hanging Rock and Coal Grove, have not laid off any officers, but officials there said they wish they could put more cops on the streets, but lack the funds to do so.

    Meanwhile, residents wonder who is living beside them and, if they need help, who will come to help them.

The Tribune goes on to provide quotes which suggest more people are realizing the old OFCC adage that "only you can protect you":...

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

    "I think it sucks," Athalia resident Georgianna Sexton said when she was asked her thoughts on the loss of her village's police department.

    Sexton said when she confronted the people who are allegedly allowing a child molester to move into their property, Sexton said she was told not to worry.

    "They said 'an 80-year-old man can't do anything,'" she said. "Horse feathers!"

    Her neighbor, Joe Webb said he isn't worried about his own family's safety now that the police are laid off, the street lights turned off and the village gossip has taken a grim tone.

    "I feel a whole safer since I bought me a pistol," he said. But Webb said he worries about all the children who live in the area.

    "That alley over there stays full of kids. That's where they ride their bikes."

Athalia officials told the newspaper they hope the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol can handle police matters in the village from now on. But as OFCC has reported previously, the sheriff's office has its worries, too.

    With more than 400 square miles to cover, deputies often find the drive between calls long and work load too much for the 15 road patrol deputies that handle operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Ask many Lawrence County residents and you get the same story: Deputies have too many calls, too little time and too many miles to travel between those calls.

    Webb remembered that once he called the sheriff's office and the deputies on patrol were so busy they couldn't give him a time when they could respond to his call.

    Like many law enforcement agencies these days, the sheriff's office is not rolling in dough. The salaries line item for the department is expected to run short of money in September. What will happen after that is anyone's guess.

"If something is going on in our neighborhood, they may come and they may not and he would be long gone before they ever get there," resident Rebecca Hager is quoted as saying. Hager, who told the newspaper the county has a big drug problem, said
Hager said she had to call the sheriff's office once approximately a year ago on a neighbor creating a disturbance. She said it took a while before a deputy arrived. She was surprised to learn Lawrence County has only 15 road deputies to handle calls such as hers. Hager recalled that recently, an elderly handicapped neighbor was the victim of a robbery. His car and money were taken.

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