EDITORIAL: Crime fighting is the top priority

A recent spate of particularly sordid crimes should serve as a reminder to politicians in Island County that police budgets need to be enhanced, not reduced.

Two of our fastest growing problems appear to be the production of methaphetamine and the possession of child pornography.

“Meth” is one of the most addictive and dangerous of illegal drugs, and is also the easiest and cheapest to manufacture. There are houses in Island County that are small meth factories, and they need to be found and cleaned up. Last week, the Washington State Patrol conducted raids on two such suspected houses in the Oak Harbor area. How many more are out there? It’s anyone’s guess, but we can be sure there are plenty.

Child pornography is another growing crime problem, as noted by the Island County prosecutor in recent comments at a meeting of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation. Since then, several arrests have been made, including two people in Oak Harbor who were nabbed last week by the FBI. The Internet has made child pornography widely available, and thousands of illicit images have been found on local computers.

Meth and child pornography have one thing in common — they usually require a lot of investigative police work to uncover. The Island County Sheriff’s Office and Oak Harbor Police Dept. could both use more resources to better deal with these problems while keeping up with the everyday crimes that continue to occur.

Budget makers are already planning for next year’s budgets. They would be well advised to make it a priority to fully fund local law enforcement. We can no longer depend on others to help out. Expect the state to cut back more next year, and the feds to devote fewer resources to traditional crime fighting and more to anti-terrorism efforts.

Crime fighting is likely the number one priority of taxpayers in Oak Harbor and Island County, and future budgets should reflect it.

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