Tuesday

Criminal behavior spreads like bacterial infection

During the summer of 1985, southern California was under a dark cloud of terror.

That summer was when Richard Ramirez, known as The Night Stalker, was executing his reign of terror, committing the most heinous murders, mutilating corpses, sodomizing and raping people. In fact, in 1989, after being on trial for four years, Ramirez was “found guilty on 43 counts in Los Angeles County, including 13 murders, and charges including burglary, sodomy and rape,” according to about.com. After being sentenced to death, he shrugged it off saying, “Big deal.”

On the day that police released a composite drawing of Ramirez on the news, Californians memorized the face. Within days the killer was caught after walking into a liquor store. “It’s the Night Stalker,” the clerk yelled. Ramirez took off with a crowd following him. He tried to steal a car and the man who was under it doing repairs started chasing him. The man and the crowd jumped Ramirez right on the street and kept him contained until the police arrived.

The people in that neighborhood were heroes in my eyes. They were an ordinary group of citizens who decided to catch a murderer when the opportunity presented itself. I am sure that if they had been fearful and hung back instead of jumping Ramirez, that The Night Stalker would have disappeared again and more people would have died. No one would have blamed them, though. The man was a walking nightmare.
At the beginning of this week there was a shooting incident. People refused to cooperate with the police in identifying the suspect. I believe that they did so out of fear. Who can blame them? But, there is something larger at stake - the peace and tranquility of our city. I am convinced that if we citizens band together and cooperate with law enforcement when these things happen, then people will think twice before bringing their malice here. That’s a lesson we can learn from those average, everyday people in Los Angeles.

We are lucky to live in the Arkansas Valley where people are generally nice and take care of one another. Unfortunately, however, that can change. All it takes is for people to remain silent when wrong is done. Silence is a petri dish for criminal behavior. Under this “glass” of American neighborhoods, criminals thrive and their activities grow in that “perfect” environment until they dominate their area. Today, we see bacterial infections that do not respond to traditional treatments like antibiotics. It then takes drastic measures to get rid of bacteria.
In the community it’s the same. When criminal activity becomes entrenched, drastic measures must be taken to overcome the “bacteria,” because people who are bent on breaking the law do not respond to traditional disciplines, like discussions about their behavior or community censures. They have to be disciplined by the law. They also need our prayers so that they will change.

Let’s not let behavior like this continue here. Let’s keep the peace and tranquility of our city by being tough on crime. It’s the only way.