The word has extraordinary significance in both city and county government.
Yet, when it comes to man power within the Thomson Police Department and the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, it's something lacking. It's not something that just happened. It's actually been occurring over the years.
It's just now that some of us are opening our eyes wider than we used to in order to see the big picture - the one that our local law enforcement officers and their superiors see everyday.
Such shouldn't be.
With crime ever increasing at an alarming rate in the City of Thomson and throughout McDuffie County, we as citizens should demand that the shortage of law enforcement be addressed by our city and county elected officials.
Granted, crime won't necessarily just go away and become non-existent if more officers and deputies are hired. But one thing is for certain - we could experience a curtailment of certain crimes.
And with more officers on the streets, added lawmen could also decrease the threat of someone thinking about committing a crime simply by their visibility.
As our city and county continue to grow, we don't need to place law enforcement on the backseat. Our elected officials should be thinking more out of the box. As we continue to prepare for the future - one that looks most promising for this region - our leaders must address the need for more law enforcement and better equipment for those who serve as public safety officers and risk their lives countless times a year.
We, as citizens, must understand that Thomson and McDuffie County are no longer the sleepy areas they used to be called 25 and 30 years ago. No - those days are long gone - sadly, I believe, never to return again.
The criminal element has grown over that same period of time, but our local law enforcement agencies have grown little.
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall and his team of dedicated deputies deserve better than they have received. The same can easily be said of Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway and his officers. And for that matter, we as citizens of the city and county deserve better than that, too!
I even believe there are many of us in the city and county who would be willing to see our taxes increased, if that's what it takes to hire additional law enforcement officers. I'll stand up now and publicly support such an idea, simply because it's one that makes sense. I think all of us could sleep better at night, if we knew there were more cops and deputies helping to protect us and to guard against us becoming a new target of a crime.
Not only do these two agencies need additional staff, they also need increases in salaries - the kind that would make them want to stay and work in Thomson and McDuffie County instead of leaving to go somewhere else where the salary is higher and the benefits better. The time has come when these types of problems need to be brought to the forefront and discussed by our elected officials.
We can ill afford to have elected officials look the other way and pretend that the element of crime doesn't have somewhat of a stronghold on us all, because it does.
Now is the time to act and to listen to those in charge of our local law enforcement agencies. They know their business. And they know best what it will take to bring us up to the level of man power that we need on both day shifts and night shifts.
I'm making a public appeal for our elected officials and those thinking about becoming elected officials to support law enforcement in Thomson and McDuffie County - simply because it's the right thing to do.