Abandoned homes are eyesore for Selma

Published 9:14 pm Friday, April 29, 2016

Over a two-night stretch, four abandoned homes were burned in the Selma area. The homes were on Philpot Avenue, Church Street, Washington Street and Kayser Street — all within just a few blocks of one another.

The Selma Police Department arrested 20-year-old Anthony Oliver Thursday and charged him with four counts of arson, two counts of unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle and one count of criminal mischief. The police department deserves a lot of credit for quickly apprehending Oliver, who reportedly told investigators that he ignited the houses because somebody slapped him.

Before most could even get news of the fires — the story had only been online a few hours — the police department had already arrested Oliver.  The department gets a lot of flak, but it’s hard to ask for a quicker turnaround than that.

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It seems silly, but on social media, we often see people complain about these sort of arrests. The argument is that the police department should spend its time worrying only about the unsolved murder cases in our area.

What is the police department supposed to do, ignore all crimes except for murder?

The police department, and the fire department for that matter, often go unappreciated for the work they do in this community. Nobody is perfect and Selma does have a lot of crime, but the blame for that can’t be laid entirely on either department.

Members of the police department have said it repeatedly, and we’ll say it again here — solving crimes is a lot easier when they get help from the community.

If you see something, say something.

In this case, police acted quickly and ended the spree before it got any worse. Unfortunately, this case also served as a reminder of how many abandoned homes we have in Selma.

When we first learned of the arson spree, two reporters drove around the city trying to find the addresses where the crimes occurred. There were so many homes that were abandoned or looked abandoned around the burned homes that it wasn’t easy to tell which was which.

There are too many homes that are beyond repair falling apart around Selma. It’s easier said than done, but it would be a significant step in the right direction if city leaders developed a plan to demolish more of these eyesores.