During Tuesday night’s Ocean View Town Council meeting, Mayor Gordon Wood made an interesting comment. He warned citizens to contact Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin if they were approached by somebody who flashed a badge. He continued to say that there have been incidents when people who are not currently members of law enforcement have flashed badges at citizens.
We have all heard the stories before about young women around the nation being abducted by individuals impersonating police officers, and there have been numerous other instances where people used badges to gain access to houses or for other nefarious purposes.
It seems that many problems we’ve historically chalked up to being “somebody else’s problem — that doesn’t happen here” are now becoming our problem.
Things have changed somewhat here in our little coastal oasis. Some have been good changes, and some have been undeniably bad. Place increased crime under the “bad” column if you’re compiling a list.
We’ve received press releases and phone calls from citizens illustrating this point. There has been a definite increase in “street crimes,” such as drugs, robberies and assaults, as well as scams — via e-mail, billing practices, fraudulent checks and others.
We’ve seen home invasions throughout Sussex County, massive shoplifting efforts by what appear to be organized groups of perpetrators and the shooting death of a Georgetown police officer. There have been cars broken into at night, as well as houses right here in our community, and thefts and vandalizing of personal watercrafts and other forms of property.
Things are changing, and people just can’t leave their homes or cars unlocked anymore.
At a time when many municipalities and states are drastically cutting budgets, the load for local police officers has increased exponentially. It’s a difficult situation, and frustrating to both residents and police officers.
What the police need is our support and vigilance. Wood had it correct. If you have questions about anything suspicious, call the police. It might turn out to be nothing. But it could turn out to be extremely important.