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Published: September 3, 2013 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Criminals prey on us

Regarding the shooting in downtown Butler between two criminals residing in our community (“Man sought for shooting,” Aug. 21, Page 1):
Those of us with a few gray hairs can remember a different Butler: a small town of well-kept homes and streets safe to walk. Our population was primarily working-class families who took pride in their community. What criminal element that did exist was controlled and under the scrutiny of the police.
Something changed over the past few decades. As people prospered, more moved out to the country. Malls were built that killed many downtown small businesses. Older folks passed away and their homes were often sold to slumlords. Whole neighborhoods were opened to government subsidized housing. Drug rehab centers opened including the one at the VA hospital. These changes opened the door to a very undesirable element to move in and fill the vacuum.
A few years ago I had dinner with a retired FBI agent. He said one of the biggest mistakes they made was crushing organized crime. It opened the door to disorganized crime and the random violence that accompanies it. So much for the law of unintended consequences.
Both the shooter and the victim had considerable criminal records. The common denominator in street crimes is drug use and drug dealing. These cretins infest our communities to prey off of our youth. They deal their poison to our children and destroy our children’s future. There is hardly a family in this country that hasn’t suffered the devastating effects brought about by the drug addiction of friends and family. A drive through downtown Butler often looks like a casting call for a zombie movie. Many of our streets and neighborhoods become very unsafe, particularly after dark.
Our town will never recover its healthy, family-friendly atmosphere until this situation is resolved and Butler will continue to be a dying town. A good first step would be to take the cops out of the patrol car and put them back on the beat. A beat cop knows his area and knows when things aren’t right and who the criminals are. These patrols could be doubled up in particularly unsafe areas.
If the police and the courts won’t or can’t do their job of keeping these poison peddlers out of our communities, then maybe it’s time concerned citizens deal directlhy with this situation. It’s time to take our neighborhoods and communities back. Are we waiting for the situation to resolve itself, which won’t happen, or for our children and grandchildren to have their lives destroyed by the cancer of drug addiction or be murdered in the cross-fire of these animals.
To allow this situation to continue is unacceptable.

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Gary L. Neely
Connoquenessing Township
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