Small towns can have big problems

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

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Just because Elizabethton is a fairly small town doesn’t mean we don’t have big problems. Just like a sprawling metropolis, we have drug addicts, pedophiles, wife beaters (and husband beaters), tax cheaters, drunk drivers, bullies, shoplifters — pick your problem.
Just this weekend, the Elizabethton Police Dept. investigated a shooting on Well Street. Preliminary investigation has found there was a party at a residence and a fight broke out between multiple subjects outside in the street. The shooting occurred during the fight.
Time after time — almost daily — there are police reports of officers responding to calls involving people who are behaving badly because of drug or alcohol use.
Yes, on a percentage basis, our problems may not be as sizable as a major city, but they still exist. No matter how hard we try, we can’t wish them away or close our eyes and convince ourselves that we are somehow immune from big city violence.
Yet, whenever something bad happens in our community — an assault, drug dealing, a stabbing or other violence or destructive crimes — many people can’t believe that it took place in our small community. They quickly surmise that the community must be going to heck in a hand basket.
No, that’s not the case. The potential for shocking acts of violence and criminal behavior is always lurking out there, no matter how small or seemingly isolated a community is.
Just recently City Police was called on a local church to do a welfare check on a female in the parking lot. She did not know what year it was or who the president was. She could not even converse with the officer, however, she did admit to taking suboxzone earlier in the day. When booked in the jail, the officer’s report said the woman reached into her bra and extracted a small clear bag with a crystal substance inside it and a small red straw with white residue. The woman was then charged with possession of methamphetamine.
The same day another female subject was picked up in the parking lot of a medical practice and told officers she was a “drug addict” and was in need of suboxzone.
Every week, the Sessions Court reports reveal instances of drug use, shoplifting, domestic assault, etc.
We need to realize, without fear, that there is crime in our community, that there are people here with a long list of past criminal behavior as well as those who are on the cusp of committing their first crime.
We need to recognize and address the root causes that can lead to criminal behavior — dysfunctional families, low self-control, substance abuse, certain mental illnesses and a culture that in some ways ignores or condones violent behavior.
Both Judge Stacy Street and Lisa Rice have shared a vision on helping those addicted to drugs instead of just filling jail cells. They want to see these persons rehabilitated and become productive citizens. We hope that will become a reality.
“The easy ones are the sale of methamphetamines, marijuana, and things like that. The ones that you don’t always see are the homicides, domestic violence, burglaries, and robberies. They all have some tie-in to drugs. You have to ask yourself, the population of Carter County is about 50,000 give or take a little bit and it’s been that way the last 70 years. You ever figured out why the jail population has almost tripled during that time period? How much it has doubled in the last 20 years? People are committing more crimes, but the issue is drugs,” said Judge Street as he spoke to the County Commission recently.
Drugs are as big a problem in Elizabethton as any other city in Tennessee and drug use leads to other crimes.We need to be more vigilant about crime. If you suspect someone is being abused or beaten, reach out to the person and help them get help.
Finally, we need to support our local law enforcement in their ongoing efforts to expose criminal behavior and make the community safe.

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