Keeping the peace

Sleep New Salem is a model for us all.

By Charles P. Pierce
January 17, 2010

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Dear Joe Camden: Congratulations. As police chief of New Salem, and according to this very newspaper, you are in charge of protecting what FBI data say is the most crime-free community in the Commonwealth. Nice work. I mean, one property crime and no violent crimes in two years? Never mind the other cities and towns in the state -- that’s below the standard set by several committees of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Heck, it’s below the standard set once upon a time by the Boston office of the FBI. I would caution you, however. Once, when I was living in a dormitory in college, the residence staff put up a notice that our floor had had no property damage during the previous semester. The notice wasn’t posted for 20 seconds before someone rode up on the elevator and put a coffee cup through a plate-glass window in the TV lounge. People get jealous is all I’m saying. It can’t be luck for you guys, either, since New Salem used up all its luck being a town on the shores of the Quabbin Reservoir rather than being one of the several towns that wound up at the bottom of it when the reservoir was created. No, I think the secret is in what one of your residents said -- that she’s frightened more of bears than of thieves. I have to think that thieves probably feel much the same way. Community policing is fine, but large civic-minded natural predators can be real crime stoppers.

Charles P. Pierce /

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