The One Horse Town of Nelson, Georgia

Well, not one horse exactly.
The town has one police officer who is on patrol eight hours a day, leaving residents largely to fend for themselves the rest of the time.
I know that area very well. The next "town" over is Ball Ground, which was very close to where I grew up. I guess Ball Ground has a police department too -- I know it does, because I've seen their car parked on the street. Their officers I haven't seen, not in all the years I've passed through there.

Sort of in between the two towns is Two Brothers Barbecue, which gives every sign of being more populous than either of these metropolises of an evening.

It's a lawless, lawless region.


Texan99 said...

The sheriff's department doesn't really patrol out here on our peninsula to speak of. There's an officious game warden who's made it his mission in life to harass people who drive golf carts without intending to golf, but otherwise somehow we mostly struggle through life without a police presence. Of course we call for help from town on very rare occasions. Very, very rare.

Cass said...

Having had a brick thrown through the window of our brand new car at our previous home, I was glad to receive a call from the County DA to tell me that the culprits (who had performed similar acts of kindness for about 30 other families in our neighborhood) had been caught by the police after an investigation and brought to trial.

The teens involved also vandalized my elderly parents' car on Thanksgiving.

We lived in a very nice neighborhood with no real crime to speak of. Maybe it would have been better for all concerned (including the teenaged boys) to allow the vandalism to continue? Or maybe the neighborhood could have taken several weeks off from work to conduct their own investigation?

Or maybe car owners with guns could have shot at suspected vandals (this all happened at night and we had no street lights, so it's really quite dark). I'm sure there is zero chance any innocent kid walking the family dog might have been shot by mistake, or that perhaps it wouldn't have been a great outcome to have people shooting at kids who - though obnoxious - were probably suffering more from immaturity than incurable sociopathy.

Either way, I'm thinking it was nice to have the police there to deal with this, but what do I know?

Grim said...

Well, it's good you live in a community that supports your preferences. Nelson is free to tax itself to hire more police, but they don't seem inclined.

Now, if one of their teenagers should find himself busting windows, I suppose they'd have to find a way to deal with it. Perhaps they might even involve their one police officer at some point. But they might have to make the arrest themselves, if it was at night -- the officer doesn't work at night.

They're right on the county line, too, which in rural Georgia typically means few services from the county. I lived in the same county for a few years, on the line between that county and Dawson County. We were told outright that there would be no police or fire protection out where we were. Somehow we survived without them, as people did before the founding of police or fire departments.

It certainly meant taking a little more care about fire hazards, because you were running more of a personal risk. And when it would snow, it was me and my neighbor who had to clear off the snow not just from our driveways but the roads up to the nearest state highway. For that reason, we both drove 4x4 trucks, and only therefore had to clear the steeper parts of the mountainside.

But it was a good way to live. I've never been happier than in those days.

Texan99 said...

I agree with you, Cass. Only a few miles from here, in town, they have a definite need for police patrolling. A waitress at the restaurant where we sell our produce was accosted at knifepoint in the 10 feet between the backdoor and where she'd parked her car. Now she's quite frightened even at home, and I know she welcomes a police presence.

It's just not always necessary out in a little podunk area. I know it won't always be that way out here, but I'm grateful for it while it lasts.

Grim said...

Maybe there are places where you need them, but it's worth remembering our discussion from yesterday, too. Having these hardships, these extra responsibilities and duties, is what develops virtue in the citizen.

Extra services where they are not needed is actively harmful, because it stops the development of virtue in the citizenry. The people of Nelson, GA, can live that way because they grew up with the expectations.

Cass said...

I don't think anyone is entertaining forcing communities that don't need services to pay for them anyway.

My point was that what works for a tiny community isn't going to work for a larger one.

There's no particular virtue in doing without a service you don't really need.

Grim said...

There is in clearing your roads in the snow -- a service we needed, which we provided ourselves. Volunteer fire departments encourage virtue among the citizenry where they are practical, too. Volunteer firemen tend to be outstanding individuals.

Now, if you really need a professional fire department, then you need one. But to the degree that you lose that direct citizen involvement in these duties, you get citizens who are less virtuous.

Cass said...

There is in clearing your roads in the snow -- a service we needed, which we provided ourselves.

Again, that's quite workable for a small community. It falls apart in a large one, especially a large one filled with elderly people, or folks like my husband's uncle who is bedridden. He has Parkinson's and COPD, is confined to a wheelchair and is on oxygen. My mother in law, a vigorous 80+ y/old woman, would probably have died long ago if she lived in a rural area. For many years, her hip popped out of joint repeatedly (we're talking at least 20 times). Even in an urban area, it took hours for her to get her leg popped back into the hip socket and in the mean time she was in agonizing pain. I went to the hospital with her during several episodes and it was a nightmare. Yet here she is today, largely because her community does pay for police and ambulances and the like.

So there's virtue, but also a lot of drawbacks that make me question the value of all that virtue. The community should be able to make up its own mind on these things, but let's not forget that it's not a cost free decision in any sense of the word.

I'm not questioning the notion that hardship builds character. I'm questioning the notion that one system is unequivocally better than the other.

I'm glad my mother in law's still here to enjoy her great grandchildren. I see the quality of the medical care where my son lives, and it's nowhere near as good as what's available up here.

Tradeoffs, and what various communities are willing to pay, really are values questions. You purchase one thing at the expense of another.

Eric Blair said...

This requirement to own a weapon is actually a sort of draft.

They're not explicitly saying so, but in effect, the govt is requiring the citizenry to exercise police power if necessary.

The the mere idea that everybody is armed in some fashion is by itself a statement of intent.

I've wondered if it wouldn't be better to simply draft people into the police for a certain period, instead of the all "professional" forces we have today. It could mitigate that "us vs. them" mindset so prevalent today.

Grim said...

Well, in Georgia all citizens do have the police power. We were discussing that at Cassandra's place the other day. There's really very little you can do as a police officer that you can't do as a citizen.

There is a bill that just came out of the Georgia House this week that would change that. It gives the police power to strip anyone of their 2nd Amendment rights simply by filing the appropriate report with a state agency. That's not subject to a court ruling or finding of fact: the law makes the report alone adequate to strip you of your right to own firearms.

That could make an interesting case, if it were done to someone in Nelson. It would be a way of legally forcing them to leave town: a kind of bill of attainder, in effect if not in form. But it also makes the police too dangerous to have around: it's too much power to invest in someone simply ex officio.

Grim said...

Not that I expect that bill to become law. It seems to be an amendment that squeaked through on final review, which now has to be approved separately by the Senate. You can be sure the NRA and the Georgia Gun Owners association will be out in force on that matter.

Still, it shows how these two views are in serious conflict even here.

douglas said...

Here in the city, it's in some ways the same- neighborhood by neighborhood. Our neighborhood is pretty safe, though it's close to some rather rougher areas. Don't tell anyone, but our front door lock hasn't worked in months. We very rarely see police up in our neighborhood, unless it's at the neighborhood watch meeting. I suspect we'd have fewer burglaries if the youth doing them thought they might get shot doing it, but they don't. Most trouble is in adjacent communities, and that's where the police spend their time. Our kids school knows that, at best, it's a seven minute or so response time for police or fire. That might be o.k. for medical emergencies, but anything you really need police for, or for a fire- it's already too late.