Small Town Big City Problems 

Car 54, Where are you?

By: Pat Hunter

Our small-town country atmosphere and character is quickly changing unfortunately, not for the better. Small communities are grappling with big city issues and crimes. Farms that once dotted the landscape are falling to the bulldozer bringing with it high-density developments. Poor planning and un-managed growth brings more people, more school overcrowding, more cars and trucks and pollution, more safety issues and yes, more headaches including drifters and criminal element.

My neighborhoods has nice homes with working couples, professionals, retirees, children, and yes police cruisers that sit in driveways for the appearance of security. But more police visibility has not deterred crime in my neighborhood. Today's criminal element appears to be more brash and savvy.

Months ago, neighborhood dogs barked more than usual while most slept but our canine friends weren't about to say one word as to what they saw and heard. The very next day, a Slow Children Sign was gone from its former spot. A new sign replaced the old sign, then something else occurred, someone spray painted the street sign, a first in my neighborhood. Then a few months later, somebody spray painted the large telephone box with graffiti, one side then the next. Now the graffiti has spread across the way to the Vo Tech Center on Harrison Rd., with no end in sight! 

Late one summer evening, police sirens filled the night air and police cruisers swiftly descended into my neighborhood. The next day, word spread about a purported home invasion-rape. Home invasions are on the rise nationally and it would appear that our community is not as safe as we may think. Although the media was aware of the purported violent crime, this serious matter was not reported by the local or Knoxville press. Home invasions make headline news in Knoxville and elsewhere but not here, why is that?

Bigger law enforcement budgets and even parked police cruisers in driveways do not guarantee safer communities. Home invasion's-rape, graffiti, what else can we expect in our once secure neighborhoods? With a community's growing pains come big city headaches including criminal element and crime, an unfortunate sign of the time! Car 54, where are you?