While it is not a great cause for celebration, it is heartening to know Greenwood’s high-profile image in the crime statistics arena has dissipated a bit. Violent crime, murder and manslaughter stats are down dramatically in the county, as noted in a story published Sunday, but South Carolina still ranks as the nation’s fifth-most dangerous state. And even though Greenwood can point to Myrtle Beach, Sumter and Spartanburg as more dangerous cities, neither the city nor the county at large can rest on improved statistics alone.
Mayor Welborn Adams recently shared that same sentiment. Nearly two weeks ago, when the FBI’s most recent statistical data was released, he tweeted “Guess which South Carolina city was NOT listed in top 15 most violent SC cities.” That same evening, he shared that work remains to be done to rein in the crime even more. In saying so, the mayor was not taking any glory away from Police Chief Gerald Brooks and the city’s police force. In fact, Adams is quick to point up the work not only performed by the city police force, but also the fact that the police force and sheriff’s office deliberately work together to solve and respond to crimes.
Indeed, the cooperative spirit among the region’s various law enforcement departments, evidenced in great part through the formation of the multi-jurisdictional Violent Crimes Task Force, appears to be instrumental in driving down the crime statistics within Greenwood County. The same might well be true of the Drug Enforcement Unit, also a multi-jurisdictional force, that is tackling the drug scene. Evidence of that was seen recently with what seemed to be near daily busts of meth labs in the county.

Adams cited another ingredient to the reduction in crime -- more aggressive prosecution of violent crimes coming from the 8th Circuit solicitor’s office. While one might argue his point by contending criminals commit the crimes with little to no regard for the consequences, one cannot argue that putting more violent offenders behind bars through stiffer sentencing has to have an impact.
One thing people must keep in mind when considering crime statistics is that in addition to having good and cooperative law enforcement, along with a judicial system that locks away more violent criminals, a community must police itself. Bear in mind that all too often law enforcement is less able to prevent than respond to crime. We can do our part by helping be the eyes and ears upon which law enforcement depends in investigating crimes and weeding out criminals.
We also must be smarter by not inviting crime. That can include something as basic as not walking alone at night to being better parents and neighbors by knowing who our children and our neighbors’ children are with and what they are doing. Investing wisely in our children with our time and attention is clearly an investment that will pay off with long-term benefits as it is far easier to maintain a non-criminal than to rehabilitate one.
Yes, it is good news that Greenwood County’s crime statistics have improved, but we all know there is plenty of room for more improvement. And we all know the task belongs to many, not just law enforcement and the courts.