Ronald Reagan once said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

We hear a lot of negativity about legislators – it doesn’t matter what state you live in.  However, Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt (R – Dist. 31) consistently makes positive impact on the community.  He is definitely not lackadaisical in his leadership role.  He spends a great deal of time in the community engaging people to strive for something better.  Merritt gets in the trenches with constituents to solve the problem and then goes to work at the State House to finish the job.  For him, there is no taking off when he sees his community is in crisis. 

Senator Merritt has long been passionate about issues affecting children, families, education, and criminal justice.   Merritt is concerned about issues from every level, whether a minor policy change for educators or a very large issue such as the battle with organized crime.  If community issues might cause problems for children, Senator Merritt consistently steps up to ask: “What can I do?,” and does it.  Sometimes he may even skip the question and go right to the doing.

Indiana faced many community issues in 2013.  Bullying, for example, is still a plague in schools and within the community.  Many do not realize how increases in certain crimes also increase issues within the schools.  Kids today face many battles which expand beyond the educational system.  Senator Merritt has recognized these factors, listened to the community, and plans to tackle them in the 2014 Indiana Legislative session.

Synthetic drug use by minors has increased dramatically.  Many parents did not realize that kids could go to certain neighborhood gas stations and buy the synthetic drugs “spice” and “bath salts.” Senator Merritt has been proactive in advising his constituents regarding these dangers.  He is working toward solutions to ensure that neighborhood businesses cease selling these dangerous drugs and that stiff legislation was place.

Criminal enterprises supporting drugs, prostitution, and slave-labor trafficking rings recruit kids on international levels.  Their tactics expand into the cyber-world through certain social media networks where kids as young as 11 become victims, without even realizing they are.  Some young people in the United States are working for these rings while of living at home and parents are none the wiser. 

The next thing we know, young are caught up in the rings.  Getting out can be deadly.  Those involved bully, cyber-bully, harass or encourage others to commit suicide or are just directly murdering their peers.  Senator Merritt has recognized these interconnected concerns and has been hard at work to see what can be done to halt the issues.

On December 29, 2013 WRTV-6 reporter Chris Proffitt reported that Indianapolis “has seen approximately 10 percent more homicides per capita than in Chicago.  In addition, Proffitt reported, “Indianapolis, by comparison, has seen 140 homicides to its 822,000 citizens for a homicide rate of 17 per 100,000 people.”  This is not acceptable.

As one can expect from Senator Merritt, this issue definitely touched at his heartstrings.  Not only does this issue affect the community, but these are children.  It is about time that adults who are using them to commit crimes, to victimize, and to kill be required to feel the sting.

This is not to say that a person should not be allowed to protect themselves by being a gun owner.  However if they commit a crime and use a gun with the intent to harm or murder, they will face tougher penalties.  On December 27, 2013, Indy Star reporter Tony Cook noted that Merritt’s 2014 legislative initiative would require judges to tack on 20 years to the prison sentences of violent offenders who use firearms.  At present, Indiana state law limits only 5 years.

I will never forget the pains of 2013.  Of these homicides, I knew 4 victims.  I welcome this legislation and believe that Senator Merritt would have won favor in President Reagan’s eyes.   Senator Merritt:  thank you for everything! You are a blessing to Indiana and our country.

Tammy D. Moon, a lifelong Indianapolis resident, has an extensive background as an investigative paralegal; business and community development; politics; legislation; criminal justice; criminology; policy / compliance / ordinance and statutory analysis; public speaking and training; strategic communications; and writing. Tammy recently founded the Indiana-based corporation, Alpha Universal Strategies (AUS), a business and community development corporation providing subject matter specific training, seminars, and public speaking. She is the Founder and President of Bully Prevention Alliance.  Tammy is a summa cum laude criminal justice graduate of Kaplan University.  Reach Tammy via [email protected]

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