The polarization of the populace, seen clearly in politics and in issues that have become politicized (the COVID-19 pandemic being a prime example), appears to be growing.
It can also be seen in Kamloops residents’ opinions on crime, which also seems to be growing.
There are various views on display in coffee shops, in pubs and, most notably, on social media.
There are views that are more moderate, ones that encompass a need to protect society with the need to help those committing the crimes leave that lifestyle.
There are also views that are more extreme — the tough-on-crime camp that bemoans what it sees as a revolving-door justice system that fails to lock up crimnals and the camp that seems to bend so far as to turn explanations for criminal activity into excuses.
No, tossing everyone in jail will not solve the problem, which requires so much more intervention, including mental-health and addictions approaches.
However, removing a select few from the streets of Kamloops would likely do wonders for the health of the community.
More than a few lawyers have told me that the vast majority of crime in the city — mostly property offences, but also robberies and drug-related incidents — can be pegged to 20 or 30 chronic criminals, or prolific offenders, as they are referred to by police.
If these two- or three-dozen habitual criminals were removed from the streets, I am told, the amount of crime — property-related and otherwise — would plummet.
The problem is indeed the aforementioned catch and release system, in which even a person caught in the act of committing a crime is released by the courts and told to obey some conditions and return on a future date.
One such career criminal was arrested on Oct. 4 during a police operation at the notorious Canada’s Best Value Inn and Suites (formerly the Acadian Inn) downtown.
The man arrested is no stranger to police, or the courts.
In fact, he was arrested during that hours-long standoff on Oct. 4 because he had a warrant for his arrest, apparently due to not abiding by conditions imposed by court when he was released twice — twice! — two months earlier after being arrested following a robbery and van arson and again following an altercation in a fast food joint in Sahali,
When he and two others were arrested after Lordco was robbed and a van used in the heist was set ablaze in Riverside Park, they were soon released, pending a future court date.
Ten days later, on Aug. 18, the man was arrested in a restaurant washroom and found to have broken court release conditions by possessing a knife and burglary tools.
Yet he was released again.
Should he have been kept in custody?
Consider the 25-year-old’s robust record — 37 convictions in the past decade or so, including for sexual assault, for various thefts and for breaking into a home, stealing a gaming console and setting the house on fire, killing the family’s dog.
In 2013, the RCMP’s anti-terrorism unit searched his home, turning up weapons and a list of locations of Greyhound bus terminals.
If a person with this kind of record is not deemed worthy of being held in custody for the protection of society, who is?