“If it’s not documented, it never happened.”

That’s one of the more memorable things I took away from this year’s Citizen’s Academy at the Lebanon Police Department.

It may not be as exciting as the police ride-along, meeting K-9 officer Drex or getting shooting lessons at the range with LPD officers, but it’s what I believe to be an important lesson for residents in Lebanon.

I read the daily police logs and often hear complaints from residents about theft here in Lebanon. It’s frustrating for victims, and equally frustrating for me because I can’t stop this from happening. But what I can do is help the community chip away at these problems.

So first and foremost, if something concerning happens, call the police.

Dala Johnson, community policing officer, has repeatedly said that many residents don’t call 911 because they don’t want to bother the busy department. But, she says, the department “wants to be bothered.”

If something suspicious is going on in your neighborhood, call the police. If your $5 garden décor has been stolen, call the police. If it’s not documented, it never happened.

First of all, calling the police gets those patrol cars in your area. Second, calling the police increases your chances of getting your stolen items returned. Especially, if you have record of any serial number or identification attached to your property.

So there’s another lesson: keep a record of important identification numbers, and take photos of all your property.

I understand many of you call the police and “document what happened,” but then nothing happens. There’s no sense of justice. Your property is never returned. Thea alleged drug addict or domestic abuser is still living next door.

You know, this topic really peeves me because the police department here in Lebanon is amazing. They are respectful and work their butts off to keep law and order. But on the other hand, residents don’t feel justice has been done.

Perhaps they expect the police to swoop in and kick out all the “bad guys,” or simply go over to the suspect’s house and take back your stolen property. But I highly suspect the police are also bound by laws that prevent them from being the Superman we want them to be.

The police are not our body gaurds. They are law-abiding humans who must follow certain protocols and run investigations for evidence-gathering. They cannot uphold the law by taking our word for it and then bully their way into the suspect’s house.

So please, give our officers a break and do your part to reduce crime in Lebanon. Record your property, call the police to document crime, and then start a Neighborhood Watch program to learn about all the other ways you can push crime off your street.

And please, get to know LPD better. Turn your bitterness to knowledge by attending the next Citizen’s Academy, which will probably be held next year around March.

Sarah Brown