Winter mayhem in an era of falling crime

"...Stephen Harper had better get busy building even more prisons if the latest crime report from the local RCMP is any indication."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had better get busy building even more prisons if the latest crime report from the local RCMP is any indication.

Sgt. Rob Hawton told city council that the key to a safe community is prevention. What is the major public safety issue in Trail these days?

Snow tires.

“The biggest thing we want to stress now, and have the public aware of, is the changing weather patterns. We’re going into winter and I can’t stress enough to drive appropriately with the conditions.

“Make sure your car is properly equipped with winter tires is a big thing when the roads get worse.”

I can’t fault Hawton’s analysis, as bad driving and the broken bodies that result is probably right up there with alcohol abuse as one of the greatest sources of misery that police deal with on a regular basis.

Unlike in Hollywood movies, the fallout from skidding into oncoming traffic or a drunken punch in the face can stay with a body for a long time, if not forever.

Certainly the statistics presented to council indicate that crime is not a major concern in Trail. Break-ins during the first half of the year were down to two a month and incidents of more serious crime were so obscure the Times didn’t consider them worth mentioning.

Nationally, Statistics Canada is reporting the lowest crime rates in 40 years. This trend is likely to continue as the baby bust deprives the streets of young males, the demographic from which criminals mostly come.

But, by all means, let’ lock people up good and long so they come out really mean and beyond the statutory requirements of mandatory supervision, build more and nastier prisons to house them, and forego rehabilitative programs and a lot more to pay for all the extra cells.

Why bother listening to the criminologists that have been trained at public expense and the frontline workers in the prisoner industry who suggest this strategy is a disaster? “We believe” and the 39.6 per cent of voters who supported us in the last elections is a good enough rational for Harper and his cohort to send us backwards.

•••••

Former reporter Lana Rodlie has been busy since retiring from the Times. Along with her husband Dan, she is a driving force behind Trail’s Community in Bloom committee, president of the Rotary Club of Trail, and keeps her fingers in a few other pies.

She has also been working on a historical novel set in the Pacific Northwest.  It is inspired by the journals of various members of the 1811-12 expeditions to the mouth of the Columbia River financed by American fur and real estate magnate John Jacob Astor in a bid to expand his empire.

While polishing the novel for publication, Lana started writing a historical blog (realhistory.ca) this fall based on her research for the book. Her most recent post is an “interview” with clerk Gabrielle Franchere, who stayed on at Astoria for several years after Astor pulled out and the British took over. Other posts have delved into the debate over who was the first European to visit the Columbia River and the history of the fur trade.

The posts are definitely worth a look for those interested in regional history.

•••••

Having retired almost two years ago from work as a general assignment reporter on a daily newspaper, I am no longer required to try and keep up with everything in case the topic comes up in the course of my work.

This is a good thing when it comes to the digital world, as I find my mind wandering when I try to read breathless reports of latest digital gadget, application, or communications strategy. When, like the computers onboard the Starship Enterprise, “smart” phones and tablet computers will respond to my voice command to make dinner, I will be lining up for one. Until then, my old laptop is comprehensible and suits me just fine.

While driving back from Kelowna recently, I was reminded of an article I had read in the National Post over breakfast. The story was about the marketing power of “freemium apps,” in which software creators and purveyors of web-based services give away basic versions of their products with the aim of eventually enticing consumers to trade up to the premium versions.

The Rock Creek general store, as old-fashioned as they come, is a master at this cutting-edge concept. When you pull up to the gas station you are always assured of a crucial service for travelers: big, bright, well-maintained washrooms that you don’t have to beg a key or stand in line for.

After a dose of free comfort, I am always keen to head into the store and trade up to a cup of hot chocolate or a bag of jujus.

Perhaps the hillbilly entrepreneurs of Rock Creek should create a website and market their business acumen to a few national chains I can think of.

Ray Masleck is a retired Trail Times reporter

Trail Daily Times

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