Some things are worth the money
Saturday, November 24, 2012 7:06 PM
"There's shooting here, shooting there and shooting everywhere and cars running all over town."
That was the word Tuesday night from longtime Ward Two Greenwood City Councilwoman Linda Edwards.
The councilwoman, who has a knack for providing commentary infused with just the right amount of sass and truth, usually at just the right moment during a meeting, made the above statement as she was arguing in favor of the city buying a pre-owned SUV that would be used by a gang investigator who will soon be hired by the Greenwood Police Department.
To some in Greenwood, Edwards' quote might seem like a grand overstatement. Surely there's not that much gunplay and violence going on in Greenwood, is there?
Yes, unfortunately there is.
Greenwood Police Chief Gerald Brooks - perhaps one of the best officers in the entire Palmetto State, I should add - spoke briefly with City Council last week and was asked about shooting incidents and attempted murders in the city this year.
Brooks said there have been more than 30 attempted murders in the city this year, and there have "easily" been more than 100 shooting incidents. Remember, we're just talking about the city limits here.
Those numbers, frankly, are frightening. And, as much as I know the economic developers and Chamber of Commerce and the high society folks aren't going to like to hear it, these shootings and general violence are part of our reality here.
Which is why I was very pleased to see City Council approve first reading of a 2013 budget that includes funding for an additional police officer, one who would work as a gang investigator. The Greenwood County Sheriff's Office also employs a gang investigator in Brandon Strickland.
I spoke briefly with Strickland on Friday and he said, while the details have not been discussed, he is sure he will be collaborating with the city's new gang investigator at times.
Looking at the city's 2013 budget, the Greenwood Police Department represents the largest expense, at $3,863,920.
As a homeowner in the city, that's fine with me. Pay them. Let them hire a new gang investigator. Hell, let them hire two.
We don't need to waste money, of course. And I realize no one, myself included, likes getting that tax bill.
But let's not cut corners in regard to public safety. The men and women on our police force need quality gear, modern equipment and they need to know backup is on the way. They aren't out there dealing with garden parties and high tea. Unfortunately, there are gunshots ringing out in some of our city neighborhoods, and they aren't shooting blanks.
ONE OF THE SHOOTINGS EDWARDS referenced in her comments last week happened at about 10 p.m. Nov. 16 at a home on Moss Creek Lane. In their response to that shooting, a pair of Greenwood Police officers managed to save the victim's life just before EMS arrived.
After being dispatched to the scene, officers Travis Anderson and Wesley McClinton arrived at the home and found the victim, a 21-year-old man, lying face down on the living room floor. The man had two bullet wounds in his back and was unresponsive.
"One of the bullets was embedded in his spine; the other went through and tore his heart," Brooks said last week.
Anderson and McClinton quickly moved to put "combat dressing" on the man's wounds. That's when the victim took a deep breath, then stopped breathing and went limp. Anderson and McClinton could not find the victim's pulse.
At that point, the officers rolled the man over and began CPR. After two rounds of chest compressions, the victim started breathing again. Greenwood County EMS soon arrived and took over.
If not for the efforts of Anderson and McClinton, the victim very well could have died right there in that living room.
These are the scenes our officers - city and county - are dealing with more and more.
Yes, it costs money to staff and equip these agencies. Yes, it costs money to put officers in SUVs and other vehicles.
But when officers are out there responding to hostile situations, working to keep innocent people safe and, in situations such as the one on Moss Creek Lane, literally bringing people back from the brink of death, I think it's worth every penny.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.