I had just arrived home last week with a New York (not St. Louis) style pizza and some wings, and I sat home to watch the NFL Draft.

(I love being back in the St. Louis Metro, but I jump at a chance for East Coast food every chance I get.)

I was waiting with anticipation and baited breath for the New York Giants’ latest draft disaster when my mobile phone rang. It was one of my coworkers telling me about a chase that ended really badly in Lincoln County. 

By now, everyone knows about this case, but I can’t go into any more details, because this is still an active investigation. 

However, it has got me wondering, what leads these people down this path? What led them to such a point where a needle, a gun and a “crystal-like” substance (as the many probable cause statements I’ve seen call methamphetamine state) are their only options in life?

Let’s face it. Once law enforcement is called for a crime, it’s too late! The damage has been done! 

Property has been stolen or damaged. People have been injured – or worse.

Law enforcement officers in Lincoln County and the prosecutors at the Lincoln County Justice Center can bring these offenders to justice – and quite often they do – as evidenced by the crime reports I put together every week, but this is after the fact.

What if we can turn back the clock though? What if we could slow down crime at its most rudimentary levels? 

Lincoln County is a growing area, so this is a suggestion to think about right now. This county’s four school districts are growing and moving in the right direction, but why not fortify them for the future? Build on them, especially at the elementary school levels.

These are the formative years of children, when they learn the most. Children are at their most suggestive at these ages, so it is paramount for them to learn good social habits.

Study after study over decades has found a distinct correlation among education, jobs and crime. Companies will come to areas with high education and job bases, whether they are industrial, corporate or agricultural.

I’m not the smartest person in the room, and even I know a better-educated area means better jobs. Better jobs mean more money, and more money means less crime.

Once again, you’re probably saying “Shawn was an idiot last week. Now he needs a (bleeping) straightjacket this week.”

People here are probably thinking because Lincoln County is not St. Louis, they don’t need to worry about these things. Lincoln County felt the sting of COVID-19 when it had education dollars slashed last year.

That’s money that’s not going toward your children!

A few weeks ago, Proposition 2 in Elsberry passed by one vote. Good teachers are hard to find, and when you have them, you have to do whatever you can to keep them – even if that means paying a little more in taxes (what a horrific word).

Listen, I hate paying them too – and I need a better accountant. Any good ones in this county?  

Sometimes, they are necessary to get the things you need to make your area better though.

What has bothered me the most over the years is our lawmakers slashing funding for education programs, and using that money to build more prisons. That relic of the 1980s has worked well to lower our crime rates, hasn’t it?

They’ve always had it backwards. If you put more money into education, you wouldn’t need to build as many prisons!

I like what I’m seeing here with the construction of the Ranken West campus in Troy, as well as Pike-Lincoln Technical Center in the northern part of the county. Now if you can keep these kids here, things can get even better.

Frederick Douglass once said, “…it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Once again, you’re not going to be able to save them all, and it is a huge investment.

However, like all great investments, paying the price now means reaping the benefits later.

As for my food, I should’ve had my coworker arrested for calling me. Pizza and wings aren’t as good when they go cold. Plus, the Giants committed multiple felonies with their draft picks.

Stay tuned for the final chapter next week…