Right in the centre - Where have we gone astray?


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

The following quote from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaks volumes about how bad things can get on so many levels. Following a shooting that injured two police officers near a Fourth of July event on Monday night, Kenney told a group of reporters that only police officers should be allowed to own guns and that he is looking forward to retiring, so he no longer has to deal with gun violence. “I’ll be happy when I’m not the mayor,” he added.

Philadelphia is not alone in violence. Chicago is much worse, but before we get too smug, let’s understand that Canada Day and days previous in our own province yielded some hideous violence. Two very recent Ukrainian immigrants were stabbed at The Forks in Winnipeg. The murder level in Winnipeg is on track to break records. Across the province, there are deaths attributed to drug abuse. We are in no position to be smug in Manitoba. Along with the rest of North America, we have a problem.

Philadelphia’s Mayor Kenney wants out. He deserves some empathy, but his solution isn’t the correct one. Suggesting that only police have guns is simplistic and unworkable.  Gun restrictions are nothing more than a flimsy grasp at a quick fix. If only the police have guns, then the only people who have guns will be the police and the bad guys, because only the good guys will obey the gun laws anyway. The bad guys sure won’t, never have and never will.

Many mayors across North America are suggesting that police forces be de-funded. That police forces may need to be shifted or redeployed is a discussion that is badly needed. To suggest that we need to take money away from policing is ridiculous. Police forces can’t cover all they are called upon to do now, even in relatively peaceful rural Manitoba.

Therein lies one root of the problem. When cities adopt a tolerance to petty crime, people learn they can get away with bigger and bigger crimes. It becomes a big sinkhole until people wake up one morning and realize that their community is being strangled by crime. Residents need to take pride in their communities and let it be known that littering, broken windows and vandalism leads to theft, drugs and violence.

There are some politicians in the States pandering to various groups by saying the police should be de-funded. The twisted logic suggests that if the police aren’t around, then the groups who feel picked on won’t get picked on. There is a lot more to that story. Yes, sometimes groups are profiled or picked upon and that’s just plain wrong. It shouldn’t happen. However, some groups wouldn’t get picked on as much if they always obeyed the law. These aren’t foolproof solutions, but would go a long way towards more peaceful communities.

Mayor Kenney says he will be happy when he is no longer mayor. I can see why. Mayors get worn down and burnt out because they, and previous councils, let their towns go down hill instead of being pro-active. That principle applies to everything from roads, to crime, to waterlines. Neglect breeds more neglect and that leads to devastating results.

We don’t need less services, we need more and smarter services. In every aspect of local government, more can be done, needs to be done and should be done. As a former mayor of Neepawa, I can sympathize with any mayor who feels pressured. Most mayors didn’t have to put up with a lot of violence, but some do and that must be a horrible experience. That said, mayors, councillors and the general public must come up with logical and reachable solutions to every problem that comes along.

De-funding the police has been suggested. So has closing jails. There are even those who want outright anarchy. We just have to study history for a few moments to understand that when a community strays away from the rule of law and good government, trouble isn’t far behind.

Much of  the discussion around the need for a country to have capital punishment could be avoided if corporal punishment is enacted when appropriate in one’s early life. Parents need to understand, “If you aren’t the boss when they are knee high, you certainly won’t be when they are eye to eye”. In many of the mass shooting cases,  there is often a significant failure to heed the warning signs in an individual’s life. Boundaries and consequences need to be in place prior to a fatal incident.

There needs to be a foundation, a bedrock that we can build on. That foundation can be found in the words of Jesus in the Bible, in Matthew 22, New King James Version.

34But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’

37Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”’

All laws and law enforcement needs to be based on these words. Anything that goes against these words is destined for failure.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.