Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Councillor Carlick-Pearson expresses concern over weekend incidents

As part of the conversation on Monday night regarding Councillor Ashley's motion to seek out funding for crime and related social issues in the city, Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson relayed some worries of her own, regarding what she believes is the changing nature of the community.

In particular, she outlined her concern over the volume of "new people and foreigners" transiting in and out of the city and the impact  that situation could have on personal safety.

She also commented rather cryptically and without going into much detail, about a number of recent crimes committed in the community over the weekend.

You can review her various comments to Council and some of the discussion around them from the City's Video Archive, the conversation runs from the 58 minute to one hour and eight minute mark.

And while she suggested that the incidents were worrisome, she did say that she didn't want to alarm anyone.

Always a tricky process, especially when you don't provide much in the way of information regarding them.

In could be, that by providing such little background and context to those concerns in Council chambers, she may inadvertently raise the level of anxiety in the community.

Should there be issues of concern that Council is aware of, one might think that Council should ask for a public update on them, in Council Chambers from the local detachment of the RCMP.

If for no other reason, than to reassure the community that they are being addressed.

The Councillor's intent to warn parents in particular to keep their children safe and to be aware of their own personal surroundings, is of course a laudable thing to pursue.

However, the problem with not providing much in the way of background over those incidents she referenced, is that it allows the community to engage in wide ranging speculation, which in turn brings out suspicion and potentially creates divisions in the community.

If the Councillor wants a fairly good example as to how a bit of information can mushroom into a larger issue, she may wish to review this item that the Northern View posted to its website this week.

It offers up a disturbing account of what can only be described as a horrific and violent incident from the weekend, the details of which are relayed from the viewpoint of a family member of the victim.

That account is perhaps, one of the incidents of which Councillor Carlick-Pearson was commenting on.

The difficulty with that article as posted by the paper, is that it provides little official information from the local detachment of the RCMP, other than confirmation of an investigation.

And while the RCMP clearly can't disclose much in the way of information on this incident, they perhaps should have offered up some reassurance and an indication to the community, as to the level of investigation that is currently underway into it.

Adding to the possible level of anxiety over that incident and the perception of other incidents in the community, are a number of incendiary comments made on line, in regard to that Northern View item.

A quick scan of the commentary feature of the paper, provides for much in the way of justifiable unvarnished anger. But with it a level of mis-information, as well as a number of  accusations and perceptions as to the overall nature of the community to burst out.

To avoid having any of that get too far out of control, perhaps Council may wish to invite representatives of the RCMP to address these perceptions of rampant crime in the community and update the city's residents on what measures are being put in place to ensure public safety.

Update:  The RCMP issued a media release at 2:12 on Wednesday, outlining details of one of the weekend incidents in Prince Rupert, you can learn more about that here.

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