A city without scanner chatter

Moose Jaw Times Herald - Editorial Staff
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Moose Jaw police kept our community safe in 2013. 

Moose Jaw Police Service

The nature of crime reporting is to cover crimes after they’re committed. The bigger the crime, the more coverage it gets.

In 2013, two stabbings — one on Ominica Street East in June and the other on Ross Street West in November — received a lot of attention from the Times-Herald.

In a city without much violent crime, any violent crime becomes a story.

The three-hour-long hostage situation in August was shockingly out of character in Moose Jaw. We reported on the event long after it was resolved when we received a press release. We followed the trial of Aaron Dueane Connors until he received a four-year prison sentence.

We were, and still are, concerned about the rash of assaults with bear repellent spray. We still believe the province needs tighter regulations on the sale of bear spray. Increasing the cost of the non-lethal deterrent spray couldn’t hurt either.

There were four reported assaults known to us that involved bear spray in 2013. Though we believe that’s too many, we do not blame the local police department, because three of those four incidents resulted in arrests and charges.

Officers do a good job of solving crimes, but members of the Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) have admitted what they do best is crime prevention. And it’s true.

The MJPS motto of “together we make a difference” isn’t hot air.

In 2013, total crimes against persons were down 18 per cent from the year before. Total crimes against property were down 14.5 per cent from 2012.

There are a few blemishes in those numbers: there were two more aggravated assaults in 2013 than in 2012. Resisting arrest charges went up 20.8 per cent. Break and enters to vehicles, garages and vacant businesses were up 50 per cent. There were 89 motor vehicle thefts and 13 arsons, both higher than the previous year.

Every member of the Times-Herald newsroom desires to tell stories that matter to the citizens of Moose Jaw, but we can only produce stories we’re aware of, and then we can only write a story when we have enough solid information.

As good as the police are at preventing crime and catching criminals, the MJPS needs work on communication. We thought the Shield application for smartphones was a step in the right direction, but it has been rarely used.

In his first few months, police chief Rick Bourassa has opened up the lines of communication in a way not seen in a long time.

We are still working on strengthening the relationship with the police, while relying less on press releases. We don’t want to just tell the stories the police service wants us to tell. We want to tell every story involving police that matters to the community.

Many newsrooms around the country still have police scanners. The Times-Herald doesn’t. Any photos or stories we get of accidents or active crime scenes come either by chance or tips from great citizens.

We don’t believe the city’s police are corrupt, nor would we ever use scanner information to infringe on citizens’ privacy.

As previously stated, we want to bring you the stories (and photos) that resonate in this community, and we want to deliver those stories quickly, not a day later off of a press release.

We believe you deserve to know what’s going on in Moose Jaw. We believe anything that keeps us from reporting on issues objectively, accurately and quickly is a threat to public interest and the fabric of the community.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.

Organizations: Times-Herald, Moose Jaw Police Service, The Times

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Ominica Street East

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