This editorial was originally published Sunday on KPC News’s website.
The recent series of unusual criminal incidents highlights the importance of police and the role they play in our communities.
First, Steuben County police were called to investigate the death of Wilma Ball, 82, at her Lake James residence, which was determined to be a homicide by stabbing.
Officers haven’t made an arrest in that case yet, which has now passed the first week since the incident, but police continue to gather evidence, follow up on tips and further the investigation.
Second, authorities spent two days investigating and searching for the gunman in a shooting at the Gallops gas station in Kendallville. Officers were on scene in about three minutes after receiving a 911 call from one of the victims and likely just missed the shooter as he fled the scene.
Over the next two days, police put out a multi-state alert to be on the lookout for suspect Matthew Rodriguez and his red Kia Forte. Around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, a state trooper in Athens, Ohio, 4 1/2 hours away from Kendallville, spotted the red sedan while on a routine check of the local rest stop, ran its plate and made an arrest on Rodriguez.
And third, Auburn police last week quickly responded to a break-in at the YMCA Early Learning Center in DeKalb County, arresting a man who allegedly tried to snatch a worker at the center and, in the process, broke through a window and secured door.
Who knows what might have happened if he had successfully captured that YMCA worker or got deeper into the facility where children were? Thankfully, a quick response by police ensured that he didn’t.
Nationwide some valid criticisms have been made about some aspects of policing and the U.S. criminal justice system. Thoughtful reforms in policing and criminal justice are welcome in the same way that thoughtful reflection and change can benefit literally any sector of society and business.
Knee-jerk overreactions can make the already difficult job police are tasked to do nearly impossible.
Thankfully, homicides, kidnappings and other serious violent crimes are a rarity in our communities, but other parts of the country started seeing increases in these types of violent crimes in 2020. Having a police officer a few short minutes away and ready to respond is critical to maintaining public safety.
Detectives and investigators who gather and follow the evidence to a suspect are key to ensuring that victims eventually get justice.
We are grateful for the good work of our law enforcement professionals.
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