At the Helm: Public safety is priority one – always will be

By Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer January 04, 2014 09:33 am

A week after my wife’s Jeep was stolen from the driveway of our Harbor home, an acquaintance said to me, “I bet you wished now that you’d voted for the law levy, eh?”

I looked at him and said, “I voted for the law levy. In fact, I voted for all the law levies proposed by Curry County government.”

He was speechless.

Unlike many Curry County voters, I’m not anti-tax. I’m not pro-tax, either, except when it comes to public education and public safety. My wife feels similarly. Those two things have always been important to us regardless of where we’ve lived and before we had a child.

Right now my wife and I can’t afford to pay more taxes — my salary has been cut, our health insurance was cancelled, and our savings has shrunk due to needed repairs on our 15-year-old vehicles. Oh, and our Jeep was stolen.

 Still, we are grateful for our may blessings — we have it better than many people in our community. 

Despite our lack of funds, if it takes more tax money to ensure we have adequate education for our children and to help my neighbors feel safe inside their own homes, then we will find a way to pay.

It’s that important to us. It always has been.

A few weeks after my wife’s vehicle was stolen, my next door neighbor’s house was burglarized — while they slept in their bed!

In both cases, a sheriff’s deputy came to our houses, took reports and shrugged, saying to me and my neighbor that there’s not much authorities can do. The sheriff’s department has been decimated by budget cuts and the deputy himself was worried he would soon lose his job.

The bad guys know there are no deputies patrolling much of Curry County in the wee hours of the night. In fact, during the months of November and December there were numerous reports of home burglaries and car thefts throughout the Harbor area. 

Angry? You bet I am!

The Graves family has lived here for 15 years, and this is the first time we feel unsafe in our home. My wife is locking the doors and turning on lights. My 10-year-old daughter is worried somebody will enter our home at night and harm us.

This is what we were trying to avoid by moving to a small, rural community where people look out for one another — and we had an adequate police presence. Now, the peace of mind we have enjoyed for 15 years has been shattered.

Telling you this is not a scare tactic. It’s reality.

There are some people out there who think the Pilot publishes stories about crime spikes, the county’s financial crisis and the loss of patrol deputies as a way to scare people into paying more taxes. They say the newspaper is on the side of the  politicians. 


The Pilot is simply reporting the facts about the reality in Curry County. Those who think crime is not happening in their neighborhood — and can’t happen to them —are fooling themselves. 

Many people have lost faith in local, state and federal government. I get it.

Yet, there are residents who insist on taking an ideological stand (“NO TAXES!”), while their neighbor’s home is being burglarized or their car is stolen.

All for one and forget the rest!

Is this the type of community we want to live in?

People’s disconnect with the community is extremely disturbing, as is a seeming lack of empathy for one another.

For the first time in my life I am seriously considering buying a gun and learning how to use it. So is my wife. 

This sentiment may shock those who know me. Like I said, I’m angry. 

Perhaps we’ll start with pepper spray and stun guns and work our way up to something more lethal.

We could move to another city, but what city — small or big — doesn’t have similar problems or will in the near future?

No. It’s time to make a stand. I like this town. I like my job. I like my neighbors. 

The Graves family is installing more exterior lights and leaving them on at night (bad guys stick to the shadows). We’re double-checking door locks and keeping watch for suspicious activity in the neighborhood.

Our neighbors are doing likewise, and I hope more will do the same.

I wish we could go back 15 years, but we can’t. We can only move forward, financially supporting our law enforcement agenices and using our knowledge to protect ourselves and our community from the small, but determined, criminal element threatening our quality of life.