Our View: Emergency system under attack

Oct. 22, 2012 @ 02:06 PM

Rutherford County’s 9-1-1 emergency system is being sabotaged.

The saboteurs are not terrorists or agents of some foreign enemy state, but ordinary thieves many of whom are likely to be our fellow county residents.

These thieves are stealing county road signs at a rate approaching 400 a year.

Sabotage may be a bit of an overstatement for this criminal activity, yet the effect is similar.

A vital governmental operation directly affecting public health and safety is being threatened.

The 9-1-1 emergency system cannot function effectively without having road name signs in place throughout the county to guide emergency responders to fire, accident, medical emergency and crime scenes.

We understand that Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputies are, in most cases, equipped with global positioning devices in vehicles, as are EMS ambulances.

However, technology can be fickle and does have a tendency to work when we don’t need it and not work when we really do need it.

Therefore, a good set of eyes can be the best source of making sure that an emergency is responded in an efficient manner.

Precious moments are lost when responders must search for a road due to a missing name sign sometimes leading to tragic consequences, including loss of life and property.

We have to ask ourselves just why do people want to steal road name signs?

The most probable reason is for money gained through selling the signs for scrap metal.

Another reason may be as a lark to get some souvenir to hang on their bedroom or den wall.

Whatever the motive, stealing road name signs is a criminal act that endangers the public. It is also costly to taxpayers, as the county spends nearly $40,000 a year replacing stolen and vandalized road signs.

The theft of road name signs must be stopped. Everyone must become more vigilant in spotting and reporting suspicious activity along county roads. Parents need to teach their children that stealing road name signs for souvenirs is not cool.

Area scrap collectors and recyclers must refuse to do business with people trying to sell road name signs and report those people to law enforcement.

And, finally, the criminal justice system must also vigorously prosecute anyone caught stealing signs.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board.

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Cliff Strassenburg and Dr. Shermaine Surratt. They serve along with Daily Courier Editor Matthew Clark and Publisher Jake Volcsko.