Andrea Rondeau column: Crime Stoppers is back, plus, why crime is important to write about

As a newspaper we cover crime as more than just entertainment.

In the next couple of weeks, keep an eye out in the Citizen for the return of a popular item.

We’re once again going to be running a weekly Crime Stoppers item, with three photos and names of people who are wanted by the Cowichan Valley RCMP, along with what they are wanted for. We didn’t stop running this item due to lack of interest, unfortunately the RCMP officer who was assigned to provide us with the information took a leave. But now, our contact is back!

In the past, our readers have liked the Crime Stoppers item (there’s even a chance to collect a little cash if you have a tip to share). And the RCMP have let us know that it was also very successful for them. People featured often turned themselves in after appearing in the paper, or police found them through tips. So it’s a great way for us to help the RCMP serve the community.

In this way we’ve found the Crime Stoppers report to be a win-win. Crime, like it or not, is something that readers flock to, whether it’s in print or online. There’s outrage and fear, or course, but also a fascination with people who have stepped outside of the acceptable limits of our society. Not for nothing are crime dramas a staple of prime time television and films.

No judgment here, crime stories are something that I always read myself. Plus I enjoy a good murder mystery novel (or crime drama) in my spare time. These are much more fun than real crime, which is usually just sad or infuriating, as people’s lives are altered or ruined, both victims and offenders alike.

As a newspaper we cover crime as more than just entertainment. Crimes are not just perpetrated against individuals, they harm the community as a whole. They are crimes against society. This is why it is the Crown that prosecutes criminal offences, on behalf of us all, rather than our justice system merely consisting of individuals suing one another.

Crime news can let readers know about a threat in the community, or that a threat has been removed. This may be a threat against property or person. But whether it’s a matter of guarding your stuff or of your physical safety, it’s important for people to know about it.

It’s also vital that our criminal justice system is public and transparent, from arrest to trial and incarceration. It’s how we ensure that people are given due process, that we cannot just be snatched up off the street and never heard from again. We do not hold secret trials where all manner of injustice can occur in the dark behind closed doors.

It’s vital that these processes are, and remain public.

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