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OPINION EDITORIAL: I will stand with our Pine Ridge police officers and any others; I will not let t

Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) - On Friday, July 31, 2020, a police cruiser belonging to the Pine Ridge Police Department was needlessly set on fire by someone who then fled the scene. The car was made unusable and SLED is investigating.

The Pine Ridge Police Department is a small department with only a few officers and a limited budget. Police Chief Vince Silano and his K-9 partner Rens and the men and women of that department do the best they can with the limited resources they have. They work to help make Pine Ridge a safer place to live, drive through, or visit with your family. Whether you like the Pine Ridge Police Department or not, they are professionals that are only doing their jobs when they stop you for speeding where our children play, write you a fine for a little weed, or enforce the laws of our land in any way. When they became an officer, they swore an oath to uphold the laws of Pine Ridge, South Carolina, and the United States of America, not just the ones they personally agree with! In many cases I was there when they took that oath.

This is Lexington County, SC, not some large city where relatively small groups of vocal and violent rioters who cannot behave themselves draw attention from a biased news media as they lash out senselessly at law enforcement officers or the established governments. Meanwhile, in those very same cities, thousands more good, hardworking, law abiding, God fearing citizens sit locked in their homes cowering in fear at what will come next. Those are the people who will NOT be shown on the evening news!

We need to stand with all our law enforcement officers 100%! They are the people who watch over us while we sleep. They come when called if your home is being broken into. They stop the driver who is under the influence and could kill our families in a crash. When the neighbors are fighting as their children cry or our businesses are being robbed, they come. They even show up when the woman down the block goes into labor at 3:00 a.m. Sometimes, they don’t get to ever go home again because some idiot though that individual officer was wrong for “picking” on them! They think that officer made the law they disagree with even when the officer was just doing what they swore to do.

Of course, out of the MILLIONS of law enforcement officers across our nation some are bad! Some also make honest mistakes. There is no excuse for that, and it can be found in every profession. If that issues comes up here, it should be called to our leaders’ attention. They should address it promptly but with a fair due process that all Americans have the right to, and if necessary, the officer should be disciplined or fired. By in large, our law enforcement officers are great people who work too hard for far too little pay because the love their communities and the job they do.

We CAN NOT let this stand! It is time for the good people to stop sitting on the sidelines and stand up! We must stand shoulder to shoulder with Chief Silano, K-9 Rens, the men and women of the PRPD, Mayor Wells, the Pine Ridge Town Council, and the citizens of that community to help bring these criminals to justice now! If you know anything about that crime, please make that tip to CRIME STOPPERS now at 1-888 CRIME SC (888-274-6372).

My name is Paul Kirby. Many of you know me personally. I am normally even tempered, thoughtful, and try to listen to all sides of any issue. I try and understand abject poverty and what that does to our communities. I try to understand how a good person can be ruined by drugs and became a criminal because of those chemicals that for some reason THEY at some point decided to try. I understand that THEY made that mistake like I make others every day. I will listen to almost anyone, ask questions, and at least try and see things from another’s point of view. I am a Christian, but again, I make mistakes every day! I was a firefighter, I am an Eagle Scout, I try to help when I can, and I love my family even when I don’t like what they are doing. I try to be good.

I am a writer. At times, I have written about the good and the bad side of Pine Ridge. You can Google the Lexington Ledger and Town of Pine Ridge and you will find those stories. I have disagreed with Mayor Wells at times and the Pine Ridge Police Department’s operations. I have written things after I have had people tell me the same thing over and over. I have quoted people that made accusations about that town and published what they said.

I have also written about all the good things they’ve done. I have recently told an official of another town to go to Pine Ridge for a meeting because Robert Wells runs a good meeting. Even before there was a Lexington Ledger, I wrote about Pine Ridge and South Congaree for the Lexington Chronicle and Dispatch News. I have literally written about the great Pine Ridge community and other small towns thousands of times. I am the same even-tempered man I was before I read about the Pine Ridge fire but this, this has made me MAD as HELL! When I get mad, for some reason, tears begin to roll down my face. I am afraid after I finish writing this, my keyboard will be ruined; I will need a new one. That’s how mad I am.

In the next few days, the staff of The Lexington Ledger will contact Chief Silano and Mayor Wells to see what we can do to help. The car is probably insured, but the that is not the issue here. We personally do not just want Pine Ridge to have their car replaced, we want them to have one newer and better equipped. We want the chief and that department, we want every department in our county to be equipped to do their jobs in the very best way they possibly can!

If Pine Ridge doesn’t need my help, I will donate what I can to another department. I will give it to Chief Hayes at the Swansea Police Department that has one long gun in the department they share as they routinely chase down criminals who have preyed on that area’s good people. When they do catch them, they face multiple people in a vehicle with nothing but their handgun and a small backup piece. They could use my help and yours. I will do what I can for the Chapin Police Department, Irmo, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, or any other agency that will accept my assistance.

Please do not sit at home or in your office, read this story, and then do nothing. It is time for the criminals to know that WE THE PEOPLE of Lexington County, South Carolina will not let this happen here! Thanks for feeding them lunches and treats but at this point, I want to do something more.

Whether I agree with everything any department in this county does or not, I will stand with my shoulder touching their shoulder until we make a wall together against the idiotic people who think we do not need these officers. I will stand there with them, even as a disabled older man, and I will fight if I have to until my blood runs in the street like too many of theirs’s has. I will stand with them!

This is America and many fought and died to guarantee us freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I would also drag my broken-down body anywhere I am needed to help fight for those rights. I will protect people’s right to speak their minds even though I totally disagree with what they are saying.

I will also stand and fight against those who would incite violence to make their point. You have the right to say what you think, not burn police cars or someone’s business. You have no right to throw firebombs, rocks, urine, feces, or bottles of anything at others and especially at our law enforcement officers who are only doing their jobs.

To anyone who disagrees I make this offer. I may not have a huge voice with The Lexington Ledger, but I have a voice that touches many. I have a live streaming show called Good Morning Lexington County that reaches over 5,000 a day on Facebook if you watch those numbers. I have a voice and I will loan you a platform to come, debate, make your point on my platform as long as you do so in a calm, sincere, open, and honest manner. Please come make your feelings known! Call me.

I will write your story and let people know what you think and why you think that way. I will not impose my opinion on what you have to say. I will work hard to let people know why you feel our officers are wrong and we should abolish or defund their departments. Please call me, please! My number is (803) 587-3144, we will make that happen.

The Lexington Ledger is a small business that is struggling financially because of the COVID 19 pandemic. This business is not rich but, I will write the first check, not just to make the Pine Ridge Police Department whole, but better! I don’t care about a tax deduction, that’s not why I am doing this! I am doing this because it’s the right thing to do.

I will let you know soon how you can help too.

Note: This is an OPINION EDITORIAL. These are not meant to be news but the opinion of the person who wrote it. Most every newspaper runs opinion pieces and I personally am fine with that as long as it lands on the EDITORIAL page where it is clearly known as the writer's opinion. If you disagree with my opinion, please don't attack The Ledger because it's not "NEWS". Attack Paul Kirby, the guy who wrote his opinion.

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