Retired chief: Don't fear a casino

To the editor:

I read with interest the Jan. 15 letter in the Register & Bee entitled “A casino shouldn’t be our future.” The thought that crime will increase is not something that will happen, and it is possible crime will decrease due to the availability of more jobs. I suspect our law enforcement officials would have the same opinion on this matter.

The same argument was put forth when whiskey by the drink was being considered, with opponents saying there would be more intoxicated persons on the streets, more drunken drivers and vehicle crashes. At that time, I publicly stated that probably would not happen because people who wanted alcohol had to buy a fifth but would be able to purchase a single drink if whiskey by the drink passed. Places that sell whiskey by the drink have a responsibility to stop selling to a person who is getting too much alcohol in their system while the person with the fifth can drink it all without supervision. The same was true with the lottery. Prior to the lottery, illegal number writing, controlled by organized crime, was rampant and consumed much of law enforcement’s time. After the lottery passed, number writing ceased to exist taking the profit from organized crime.

My strongest disagreement with the author concerns his statements about our City Council. His statement that “Their greed is disgustingly evident” is offensive. Council members draw very little compensation for their service and a casino will not cause them to “have fat pockets and receive all the benefits that the average person will never see.” They will continue to serve at the same level of compensation working to bring new industry and jobs to Danville. Perhaps the author of the letter has not noticed the number of announcements of new industries and jobs that have been announced over the past year which makes his statement about Danville in decline wrong.

Gov. Ralph Northam, in a recent visit to Danville to announce another new industry to Danville, recognized Danville and Pittsylvania County as a model for the rest of the state due to their efforts to revitalize the area. Not only have we seen these announcements, but take a look at the River District at all the positive things that are going on there. Council and the city administration are working hard to continue Danville’s recovery from the loss of tobacco and textiles, and I see an increase in growth, not a decline. I have a very optimistic view of Danville’s future and believe a casino will not be a detriment for it will be controlled by the same commission that oversees the lottery. I am also confident our great police force under the leadership of Police Chief Scott Booth will be up to any challenge that might arise.



Editor’s note: The writer is a retired chief of the Danville Police Department.

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