May is an incredibly busy time of year. One out of 10 weddings occurs in May, with an average guest list of 178 people. That’s enough to keep a lot of folks busy, but most of May’s activities center around school graduations. From eighth-graders moving up to high school, to high-school seniors moving up to college, to college students moving on to begin their careers, there is a lot of celebrating going on.
May is probably one of the most “feel good” months of the year. With the school year out of the way, there is a feeling of freedom on the part of both students and parents. The weather is in that sweet spot between the drab cold of winter and the oppressive heat of summer. This is the time to get out, get active, and enjoy what life has to offer. From theme parks, to sporting events, to concerts, it seems that the fun all starts in May.
Unfortunately, recent events in Boston have reminded us that we cannot completely relax and just “throw caution to the wind” while we are out having a good time. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we must maintain some level of awareness of our surroundings.
How many times have you noticed something that seemed odd or out of place? Maybe a person that just didn’t “fit” in some way, like perhaps wearing a jacket even though the temperature is warm? Or a package or backpack left unattended? How many times have you noticed something, then immediately dismissed it as unimportant? In today’s reality, the preferred approach is “see something, say something.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has launched a program called, “If you see something, say something.” It is a simple and effective program to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and violent crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement authorities. Factors such as race, ethnicity, national origin, or religious affiliation alone are not suspicious, but behavior and even speech related to terrorism or other criminal activity should be reported to local law enforcement or 911.
Many people choose not to report the things they notice because they are afraid that they will be accused of overreacting. In today’s world, however, overreaction is preferred. Overreaction keeps people safe. Under-reaction, on the other hand, leads to regret.
As the sheriff of Dougherty County, I have many responsibilities. The Sheriff’s Office must enforce the law, maintain security in the courts and operate the jail. The most important mission, however, is to ensure the safety and security of the public. I firmly believe that motivated and professional law enforcement, coupled with a vigilant citizenry, leads to a safer community.
I congratulate everyone who is celebrating an accomplishment in May and I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer. I also want to remind you to please contact the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 431-3259 if we can be of any assistance to you.
Sheriff Kevin Sproul is a longtime resident of Dougherty County. He is a graduate of Albany High School, Darton College and LaGrange College of Albany. Sproul has been employed with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office since 1982 and can be reached at (229) 430-6508.