Our idyllic town took a cold, hard slap from the uncaring hand of reality nine days ago. The murder of David Michael Grubbs was tragic and horrific, and our hearts go out to his family and friends as they try to cope.
While we all grieve, we also must decide whether we will allow the fear that naturally results from such a heinous act to overpower us. We win as a community when we rise up against fear by carrying on with our lives with even more purpose than before, albeit with a little less collective innocence, while doing all that we can to ensure our safety.
The worst action for us to take is to dwell on a single act and let it control our daily lives. We should not panic or fuel the rumor mill with half-truths and uninformed opinions. We should not point fingers, look suspiciously at our neighbors or blame everyone else for the actions of one person. There is someone to blame for this act, and that person will be held accountable.
Over my 16-year career in law enforcement, I have witnessed some terrible acts. There are scenes and cases that I won't talk about with my family, friends or anyone outside the force. Ever. However, like others in law enforcement who have seen evil up close, if I felt the safety of Ashland's residents was threatened, I would be the first to sound the alarm. The truth is, Ashland is a safe place.
Ashland is a wonderful community in which to raise our children and escape the danger that is common in larger cities. In fact, very little violent crime happens here at all, and in the past year, our violent crime rate has dropped by half. Yet, it would be naive for us to think that Ashland would never be challenged by tragedy.
We are fortunate to have an experienced leader at the helm of the police department, who I know is working night and day with the help of nearly every law enforcement agency in the valley not only to bring closure to this case, but also to keep us safe.
Every potential lead is being run down and patrols are being increased. There is no need for citizens to roam the streets looking suspiciously in every shadow.
What is needed is for all of us to use our common sense, continue to take the basic safety precautions we always have and look out for one another.
Turning Ashland into a paranoid battle zone will only allow the evil to win. Ashland is better than that. Ashlanders are resolute people. We have faced calamities and heartbreak before Nov. 19.
Just like before, we will take time to grieve with our neighbors and friends over the great loss and we will provide a collective shoulder for anyone in need to lean on.
We will take care of one another — we will stay alert — but we will continue to live unafraid and with the passion for life that has made Ashland what it is today.
Greg Lemhouse grew up in Oregon and moved to Ashland in 1995 when he joined the Ashland Police Department. In 1997, he joined the Medford Police Department, where he is now a lieutenant in charge of the patrol division. He was elected to the Ashland City Council in 2008 and is currently the council chairman.