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Stop problems before they start

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services describes community policing like this:

“Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.”

There are several key words in the definition, the first of them “proactively.”

Law enforcement officials are not everywhere, and they can only do so much.

There has been a public uproar about recent murders in Selma, as there should be.

But no one picks up a gun one day and makes a snap decision to become a criminal.

A pattern begins — a pattern that is evident to friends, family members and neighbors.

The best way to cut off future criminal acts is to make our voices heard, either by that person or someone else in a position of authority.

Only then can we save someone headed down the wrong path. And we can possibly save other people’s lives, too.

Community means responsibility. Relying on the law to solve our problems is not taking a responsible position.