OpEd: Feeling Safe?

Feeling Safe?

How safe to do you feel in your home, at work, or just walking the streets? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to live in an area where the crimes committed in a 24-hour period are typically counted on the fingers of one hand? What if your town had virtually no history of significant violence? Suppose you lived in a place where horrific crimes such as rape and homicide were as rare as a lightening strike on your bowling ball?

In fact, there are places like this in America—many of them. One of my favorite candidates for sane, safe living is Bozeman, Montana. This is a typically pristine Montana town, which thrives on providing goods and services to the local ranchers. The population here is officially under 25,000, although the town seems bigger and considerably more sophisticated than its size would infer. Like many other truly livable places in the West, there is a certain comfortable pace of living in Bozeman that is compelling and addictive. The townsfolk are friendly and outgoing, ready to welcome you with a smile that is obviously genuine. No beady little stares or shifty glances in this town. Best of all, this is a place where SWAT teams and armies of police are not fighting a failing war against crime and violence. In other words, this is a secure and wholesome place to live. Sound reasonable?

Let me prove the point with a glimpse into recent history. Here are all the police calls made in Bozeman during the 24-hour period I visited. These reports have been taken verbatim from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle archives (Thursday, September 3, 1998) and are completely unedited. Now, your first reaction may be to chuckle after reading these reports. Being a Californian, that was my first reaction. However, give it some thought. How does your town compare to Bozeman? Do you feel this safe? Wouldn’t you like to have bragging rights to this level of crime in your town?

  • An attempted burglary took place at Subway, 1324 W. Main St. Someone tried to pry open the rear door of the business, but did not succeed.
  • Three names and a footprint were put in the wet cement of a handicapped-access ramp at Ravalli and Ferguson roads. Workers will likely have to redo the cement work.
  • A 55-year-old Belgrade man was cited for assault after he hit someone at Powerhouse Technologies, 2311 S. Seventh Ave.
  • A woman reported that a burglar entered her home and stole 15 pairs of underwear from her hamper.
  • Three vehicles were sprayed with blue spray paint at the Bobcat Lodge parking lot, 2307 W. Main St.

Well, there it is—irrefutable proof of sanity in hidden away places. It makes me wonder what has gone wrong with our country, or at least California? Hopefully, Bozeman will remain a secret place and will not be despoiled. To help this hope along, I ask one small favor: don’t come here! I want to keep it for myself.

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