We were disappointed to hear about yet another incident at a local pharmacy this week.

A man, who had been in trouble with the law just weeks prior and had been recently hospitalized for a mental illness, took a gun into the Camden Rite Aid and took the pharmacist hostage for hours. Later, the man let the hostage go, before taking his own life.

We join the community in being thankful that the hostage was not hurt, but we are deeply concerned about this trend.

In the past, banks were the primary robbery targets, but the pharmacy is the setting of choice for 21st century crime.

This is not the first incident in our area. Since 2010, there have been six robberies at pharmacies in Camden, Rockland and Rockport. There is a common theme among these incidents — all of the previous incidents include desperate people in need of opiates. Although police have not officially said the latest incident involves drugs, we would be surprised if this is not the case.

Incidents like these affect not only the persons involved, but they create fear among all area pharmacy employees and their families. Our local police officers and emergency responders are placed in danger by these situations. When you consider the broad spectrum of crimes and related problems stemming from substance abuse, it becomes clear this is a problem that affects the entire community.

Pointing out the problem is easy. Solutions are harder to come by.

The time has come to get a conversation started. Do we need to provide more treatment and prevention options for alcohol and drug abuse? Do area pharmacies need to add security measure such as more cameras, panic buttons for quick response from police, security guards?

Write letters to the editor with your suggestion. Our society often faces challenges, even great ones, but fortunately, as members of a community, we don't have to face them alone.


Introducing The Debate

If you look to the right of the editorial on our editorial page this week, you will see two columns side-by-side.

Both tackle the issue of taxes and spending in our society, but they look at them from different sides of the political fence. Lawrence Reichard, who has recently started writing for us as a columnist, describes himself as a progressive.

A group of locals calling themselves Another View have been writing for us for some time, presenting conservative views, and their column has gained some popularity.

Our goal in the opinion pages is to offer lively, interesting and informative opinions from a variety of viewpoints on issues that are important to the community. As Americans we believe in the value of a robust, sometimes even passionate, debate of the issues, and we have seen that recently in the letters we receive responding to our political columnists.

In the near future we will have debates in these pages on issues including welfare (Oct. 16), and the Governor's race (Oct. 30).

Soapboxes welcome. May all be heard and none be silenced, even those we disagree with.