In the wake of yesterday's drug bust here in Elizabethtown, I have been doing some thinking about our community, what it is and what it isn't.
This was especially true after one of my Twitter followers, in the space of 140 characters, thanked me for updating the community on the situation but also said, "Sad what that area has become."
To be honest, the comment rubbed me the wrong way.
What does that mean? That Elizabethtown is a drug-infested haven where alleged heroin dealers run rampant?
Or is it a community that, when law enforcement recognizes the significant issues and impacts that alleged criminal activity and drugs has, calls in the cavalry and organizes what could be a logistical nightmare for officers from multiple local, state and federal jurisdictions, and patiently and quietly goes about its work to build a case for six months?
When I was a newspaper reporter in my hometown, I often heard local officials say it was so hard to combat drug dealing because the community was isolated and it was hard to build trust because everyone knew everyone. That, to me, was making excuses that it was too hard.
Our Elizabethtown Police Department is to be lauded for the work our officers did yesterday and in the months leading up to it. From the bottom of my heart, as a resident of this community and as a member of Borough Council, I say to each and every officer, "Thank you!" I can't wait to look you in the eye and congratulate you and thank you personally.
Let me be clear about another thing, and let's think logically about it. The borough has 11,000 residents. A fraction -- a minuscule fraction -- was arrested yesterday. And they allegedly were servicing a fraction of our community. So while the numbers seem big, and the related media attention great, let's remember that the vast majority of Elizabethtown residents have not, will not, do not and never will use or sell illegal drugs.
This incident must be a learning experience for all of us. First, we are not immune to drug problems. Police Chief Jack Mentzer said every community, big and small, faces this problem. It's just a matter of actively addressing it and not burying our heads in the sand.
We can also learn about organizations, such as Elizabetown Area Communities That Care (full disclosure: My wife is a board member) that is working hard in conjunction with other community organizations and individuals to develop effective programs to battle drug use. This includes our schools and our churches.
We have a great community. We have people who care deeply about Elizabethtown. We can hang our heads in shame about what happened yesterday, or we can stand proud knowing that it does not define who or what we are as a community.