EDITORIAL: Silence over safety

According to Surrey RCMP not every shooting incident that takes place is a cause for alarm or public concern.

There are certainly huge metropolises in this world, particularly south of the border, where gunfire doesn’t merit a headline, and even certain killings go unmentioned by the media.

Has Surrey become that kind of city?

According to Surrey RCMP – now belatedly confirming 31 incidents of shots fired in the city since Jan. 1 – not every shooting incident that takes place is a cause for alarm or public concern.

In justifying a lack of public announcements on such incidents, Supt. Shawn Gill suggests police only send news releases out when they need witnesses or when they believe such an incident poses a risk to residents. He says the police don’t want “to create fear where there is no need to.”

Reassuring words, perhaps, and certainly in line with past statements from Surrey’s political leaders that portray their city as safe, calm and orderly.

Yet by not making shootings public – by not ‘creating fear’ – one wonders if more damage is being done.

Shouldn’t residents be worried, frightened and disturbed each and every time the sound of potentially lethal gunfire rings through the streets and outside our homes?

Perhaps it could be explained to us what the sound is of non-threatening, non-risk-posing gunfire? Is there a simple way to tell the benign  variety from the deadly kind?

Our leaders acknowledge they know where most of this gunfire is coming from. Most of it, they say, is connected to turf wars in the illegal drug trade. A lot of the shootings are ‘targeted’, which means, we suppose, that we can breathe a huge sigh of relief that the bullets didn’t have our names specifically inscribed on them.

As U.S. mobster Bugsy Siegel famously said, “Don’t worry – we only kill each other.” But that wasn’t exactly true, was it? Even in his day, newspaper headlines regularly screamed about ‘innocent bystanders’ – the collateral damage of cities plagued by rampant gangsterism.

Is that the kind of environment residents are comfortable with, here and now?

We have two choices: accept that our streets are at times dangerous – and try to be part of the solution while doing our best to ensure safety; or just go back to bed and not worry our heads, not contributing to any undue panic.

The latter might be better PR for the city, but it doesn’t make any of us any safer.

Peace Arch News

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