Crimes shake us, but we still live in a mostly safe place

Plenty of crime news flows out of Highlands County, even though we're a small, rural county. Even this week we've had shootings that injured law enforcement officers and one that killed a young Avon Park man Saturday morning. It's enough to scare people. That said, we are blessed to live in a part of the country where we mostly feel safe - and are safe.

Two federal marshal deputies were shot during a drug raid last week in Sebring. The wounds were not life-threatening, and we're thankful for that, but it still shook up a lot of people.

Late Friday or early Saturday morning, a young man was found shot and killed in a street in Avon Park. No clear information is being released about the incident at this time.

In Saturday's paper Highlands Today reported that serious crimes increased in the county over the last year compared to the state. Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton says those statistics don't tell the whole story, and she's right. She pointed out the high number of crimes "cleared" or solved in Highlands County - 37 percent - compared to the state's number - 25 percent.

Crime rates go up and down, and in smaller population centers a few serious crimes can skew the statistics. That happens in Highlands County a lot. Sebring Police Chief Tom Dettman refused to crow about low crime statistics a few years ago because he knew that it can change from year to year. The real indicator is looking at a trend over a longer period of time.

Most people living here feel safe - and they should. There are areas that are known for criminal activity, and anything can happen anywhere on the planet, but overall, our law enforcement does a great job.

Living in fear is no way to live, and media accounts of crimes can provide a perception that there's more crime than there actually is in our communities. That's true everywhere. But we also live in communities were good people surround us, trying to make a difference for those in need and providing security of all kinds. We're lucky to have that.

Crime scenes will pop up in places we'd never expect. Heinous crimes have always happened. Bad things happen to good people. That's the way of the world and we're no exception, but we must remain realistic. It's all a matter of perspective.