The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

April 7, 2013

Drug war loses a warrior

Slaying of Mingo sheriff brings societal problem back to the forefront

Make no mistake about it.

We are on the front line.

Maybe even behind enemy lines.

The war on drugs is not a one-sided effort.

The news out of Williamson on Wednesday confirms that fact.

Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum became a victim in this war that is raging in southern West Virginia when he was gunned down at point-blank range while sitting in his police cruiser having lunch.

Whether the shooting was directly motivated by drugs is yet to be determined.

One early report told of prior mental issues of the shooter. If so, that’s disturbing too.

But Crum had pledged to help rid the southern coalfields of the illegal prescription drug trade blamed for thousands of addictions and overdoses.

He held the office of sheriff in Mingo County just three months.

Crum’s friends say he was shot to death in the spot where he parked most days, as he was keeping an eye on a place that had been shut down for illegally dispensing prescription drugs to be sure it didn’t reopen.

His new drug crackdown program was called Operation Zero Tolerance. It already had led to dozens of indictments, which is causing his supporters to suspect a connection to his death.

One county official says that several people waging the war on drugs in Mingo have received threats.

It’s one thing to sit in front of a TV and view battles between countries we may not even be able to locate on a map. Most times the average citizen doesn’t know what they’re fighting for. Or care. It’s too easy to turn the channel or write off what you’re seeing play out in front of you as something that does not affect you or your family.

But there may be nothing more terrifying than witnessing war firsthand on your own soil.

Drugs are affecting all of our communities.

Think it’s not? Then consider these issues that remain in headlines on a daily basis.

Home invasions.

Shootings.

Murders.

Prison overcrowding.

Economic woes.

Almost every time we write about one of these issues, it’s determined that drugs are at the root of it.

Our hope is that the communities realize the seriousness of this plague that has gripped our region.

We must do all we can to support our state, county and local law enforcement officers, and elect lawmakers who aren’t afraid to take on these tough issues.

Because the war is on.

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