Callers to the Gazette have asked why serious crimes they hear about are not being reported in the newspaper.
In recent weeks there have been persistent reports about several home invasions or armed robberies in homes in Sturgeon County. Gazette calls to Morinville RCMP to either confirm or refute the claims came up empty over the course of several weeks. A call to Morinville police last week netted a “We are not talking about that” response communicated through the front office staff. Repeated efforts for police comment as recently as Tuesday went unanswered.
There were two bank robberies in St. Albert on July 24 and July 25 that St. Albert RCMP did not confirm until July 27 with a news release. That is when we learned that the alleged bank robber was arrested after the second robbery in St. Albert and two other robberies in Edmonton.
We understand that police officers are busy people and they are sometimes working understaffed. In some investigations police may not want to release information for fear of jeopardizing a case. However, in cases of serious crimes where public safety is at risk police have the responsibility to get the word out. The public deserves to know so that they can protect themselves, their families and their property.
Although the St. Albert area has enjoyed a relatively low crime rate, we know we are not immune to serious crime.
Those who are aware of criminal activity in their area will have a heightened awareness and be on the look-out for suspicious activity they could then report to police. This could assist in investigations. People who know their neighbours have been the victim of crime can take precautions to protect themselves from similar crimes.
In a recent case one Sturgeon County man said he would never have left his garage open if he had known a neighbour’s house had recently been hit. Both men say masked men entered their houses in separate incidents a week apart. In one case a man said he was held at gunpoint while intruders took him through his house stealing money and valuables. Both men say they have turned over security camera footage to police, but they have not heard the status of the investigations.
When police don’t report crimes or put public speculation to rest, rumours circulate and people are left to wonder what is happening.
Earlier this year, Sean Holman, an assistant professor of journalism at Mount Royal University said crime is a community issue.
“Crime is public business; it’s not private business. And when there is crime in the community it is a community problem, it’s not a private problem,” Holman was quoted in a Calgary paper earlier this year when police were criticized for not reporting the names of some homicide victims.
Crime is a community issue. The public deserves to know what is going on. We expect police to inform the public about criminal activity in our community in a more timely fashion. It’s a safety issue, and the public’s safety, after all, is the RCMP’s primary objective.