“What is the world coming to?”
Any time we cover a serious police story, at least one person will ask this question. The nature of the crime – or whether it is a crime at all – need not apply. This news gets people worried about what is happening in their communities and that is understandable.
But context is always vital. We must work to understand the context before having a knee-jerk response about the state of crime in a community. If we do not, our response may be lacking or outright incorrect.
These past two weeks, we have reported on more police news than usual. OPP arrested three people in a multijurisdictional drug ring. A body was found in a sunken truck. Some person(s) stole from the Gooderham fire hall and Parkside Laundry in Haliburton. These stories can be startling. They impact people and places we care about. They might make us afraid and leave us wanting to increase security. They could make us question our idyllic perceptions of the County of Haliburton.
In context, however, they can be less scary than they appear. The death of a person in the truck is tragic, but not criminal. A theft targeting a fire hall is terrible, but the damage was at least relatively minor and a stolen ATV was recovered. A drug-ring is concerning, but police are addressing it with some success getting stolen goods back.
Even the two reported homicides this past summer, though frightening, may not be indicative of a larger trend.
Crime is no stranger to Haliburton, which is not good, but also means it is not as unusual at it can seem. Police departments are not necessarily consistent in what information they release to the public, particularly if they lack staffing. There is plenty of crime that the public is not made aware of, which is worrisome, but may also make a week like this less alarming. We also tend not to hear about when cases get solved, which could bring some relief.
It is our job to provide that greater context and it is something we will work to do.
It is worth noting though crime rates have increased over the past four years nationally, Canada’s crime severity index was still 15 per cent lower in 2018 than it was a decade ago.
None of this is to say we should not heed reports of crime in the community. Victims should be helped. We should also look for ways to address thefts and drug crime, whether that be through law enforcement, security or government initiatives. We must also always strive to tackle the roots of crime, such as poverty.
But think critically and avoid being consumed by dour news. Be mindful of what you do not know before leaping to conclusions. It is all too easy to be fearful when this information reaches our ears, but reports of crime do not mean Haliburton has lost its way. They do not mean you are unsafe.