Crime Prevention Corner - Recent mass killings illustrate importance of vigilance

Ron Craig, Crime Prevention/Community Policing Officer

        With the recent mass killings in Dayton and El Paso, it’s time to remember how important it is to report suspicious activity and social media postings that indicate someone is threatening to carry out a deadly attack.
        In the past, we have aptly focused mainly on school shootings. Our department’s school resource officer works very closely with the principals, teachers, and other administrators to find indicators that a student may be experiencing some type of crisis that requires intervention.
        The importance of school shootings notwithstanding, recent events across the country have shown a sharp increase in the number of non-school shootings that have resulted in multiple deaths in each incident.
        Homeland Security has defined the term “mass killing” as one that results in at least four deaths. It could be reasonably argued that number should be lowered.
        In these columns, I do not get political, and I’m not going to start now. Every person has his or her own idea of what should be done to attempt to curb this thoughtless loss of human life. Closing loopholes in background check requirements and limiting the sales of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines are usually among the
changes discussed, but we have yet to come up with a solution.
        No matter what an individual’s thoughts are on these subjects, we should be able to agree on ideas that can make a difference. One of these lines of thought is to be vigilant of what we see, what we hear, and what we read.
        In almost every mass killing incident, there have been found incidents in which the shooter has bragged about wanting to carry out such an incident. When threats appear on social media, this has now become known as leakage.
        A few years ago, someone in the Fostoria area got on Facebook and threatened to carry out a mass killing in one of that city’s parks. Unfortunately, there were several individuals who put up posts to write they wanted to join the man in the killing spree.
        Several others, however, contacted the Fostoria Police Department to report the postings, and the effort was thwarted with criminal charges filed in the case.
        It is human nature to pass off what we see, hear, and read as the meaningless rantings of a deranged person that will never come to fruition. It has become clear that there are those who had known in advance that successful mass killings were being planned but did not report them.
        No decent person would want it on their conscious they could have prevented the carnage if they had just picked up the phone to report it.
        It is also common for citizens to think such incidents could happen in a nice, law-abiding community like Lake Township. For those of you who may have bought into this line of thinking, read on.
        We once had an incident at one time in which a person said he had thought of committing a mass killing in our township. Thankfully, he did not act on that impulse.
        Our officers have also arrested a man who was prescribed medication for mental issues and was discharging a firearm.
        These incidents are proof positive it can happen in our own back yard.
        There is no way law enforcement can read every social media posting to check for such threats. It would take an army of officers to do so, and there is no money in a budget for it. We depend on everyday citizens to be our eyes and ears to report what they see, hear and read.
        Even if you are not a member of any of an organized Neighborhood Watch group, you have the wherewithal to report such activity to your local law enforcement agency. Even if the issue turns out to be nothing, you will feel better for doing it.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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