In light of the national media's non-stop, 24/7 bashing of our president over the past several months, I felt it was a better use of my time to pause and reflect on something that's much closer to home. After all, anyone who thinks that this political nonsense is going to stop anytime soon is probably fooling themselves.
Instead, I'd like to focus attention on what our local police officers and sheriff's deputies have done to keep Mountain Home and Elmore County a much safer place to live and raise our families. The recent "Crime in Idaho" report released by the Idaho State Police earlier this month shows what some might call a mixed bag of news.
On one end of the spectrum, we're seeing fewer people making the extremely unwise decision of trying to drink and drive, and there are more citizens out there that are not falling victim to all the scams that are trying to separate them from their money. At the same time, however, we're not immune to the narcotic epidemic that continues to inflict its misery on many people in Mountain Home and neighboring communities.
Those that have worn the badge of a police officer or sheriff's deputy know that the drug problem represents an ongoing fight that doesn't allow them a chance to catch their breath or let their guard down. If given the opportunity, drug criminals will continue to operate within our communities and cause even more problems unless they're taken off the street once and for all.
It's this reason alone that convinced Sheriff Mike Hollinshead to request more manpower to take drug dealers and manufacturers off our streets. In his meeting with the county commissioners, he's hoping to add more detectives to his department to aid in ongoing investigations aimed at disrupting drug trafficking here.
During my time with the Mountain Home News, it's pretty easy to tell how bad the drug problem is based on the types of crime that get reported each week. When there's more drug trafficking happening here, you tend to see more homes and cars broken into or victims reporting that their property was stolen.
The reason? It's because there are drug addicts out there stealing this property because they want money to support their habit.
Personally, drug and alcohol abuse hits a little too close to home because I've seen firsthand how it affects people. Members of my extended family have battled addictions with both drugs and alcohol, which ultimately killed two of them.
In addition, a cousin of mine spent a few years behind bars because her addiction to methamphetamine convinced her to start selling these drugs on the streets. She was finally released from prison two years ago, but I know her battle is far from over. She and others like her have to fight the urge to avoid "falling off the wagon" every single day for the rest of their lives.
That's the problem with meth. It's perhaps the most horrible form of narcotic to ever hit the streets. It can hook someone after just one "hit," and the addiction can become permanently embedded in their mind, body and soul.
I remember one case in recent years in which a person was sent to prison for a considerably long time due to their addiction to meth. Once they were finally released, the first thing they wanted to do was go right back to using it.
Yes, the addiction is that powerful. It's very similar to those who are alcoholics, who have to fight off the urge to drink throughout the rest of their lives.
While we do have a problem with drugs and alcohol in our county, there was one thing in the state police report that we lack — the serious forms of crime you typically see in larger cities.
Consider this: Over the last 15 years, this county has directly dealt with six murder cases, which doesn't include an apparent murder-suicide reported in late 2016. We also had one attempted murder in which an airman from Mountain Home Air Force Base was shot and critically wounded in what appeared to be motivated by a "love triangle."
Now compare our numbers to those from large urban areas where someone gets murdered and it doesn't make the front page anymore. It's clear that it's far safer living here.
Here's something else to keep in mind. We don't have to deal with the types of violent crime that's common in Los Angeles and Chicago such as drive-by shootings.
While you would think that type of senseless violence is confined to major cities across the United States, it's not. The threat of drive-by shootings, for example, was something my family and I faced during our time in Colorado Springs, Colo. You would think that a town with two military bases in it wouldn't have that issue, but we quickly learned that wasn't the case.
Crime in Colorado Springs got so bad that I was relieved when I received orders to move my family to Japan. We were glad to get away from the gang-related activity that had taken root in a city that should've been Colorado's outdoor paradise.
It's sad that our society has come down to this, but in some cities, it's become the "accepted norm."
That's why my family and I love living here. Our police officers and sheriffs deputies don't want Mountain Home and other communities across Elmore County to become gang-infested dens of crime. Our officers and deputies have worked hard over the years to crack down on the infiltration of drugs into this part of the state.
In addition, our law enforcement team has another resource that's helping combat crime — the citizens of this county. We remain much safer because people here don't condone the type of crime that's taken root elsewhere.
When we see a suspicious person in our neighborhood or someone starts causing other types of problems, we have no problem picking up the phone and calling it in. From my perspective, it's better to overreact and call in suspicious activity versus remaining silent and doing nothing.
Criminals want us to sit idly by and let them continue to infest our community. That's why we are not allowing that to happen here.
And for that, I remain thankful to live here.
— Brian S. Orban