We have all been horrified by scenes of carnage in places not much different than Keizer. Mass shootings have occured in such varied cities as San Bernardino, Newton, Colorado Springs and Aurora.
It doesn’t matter if the killings are a result of mental health, political or religious issues. The killings have occured in places local residents later say, “I never thought it could happen here.” That’s the problem: it could and it did happen there. Though we live in our quiet little corner of Oregon here in Keizer, is it possible to say we could not suffer a similar tragedy?
We should not say, “It can’t happen here.” It can because we can never know what goes on in the hearts and minds of others. After each of the recent mass killings across the nation reports come out that someone suspected something but said nothing; or, someone felt someone was acting strangely and different than ususal. In a society where privacy is paramount we are loathe to invade another’s privacy.
After 9/11 the nation was told if you see something, say somethng. A neighbor of San Bernardino shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik didn’t report suspicious activity at their house because he didn’t want to appear to be racially profiling or racist.
Could a report to police by the neighbor have stopped the massacre? That’s unknown. All bets are off when terrorism hits the American heartland. Safety and security trumps privacy. It can be argued that at least one other person knew of any of the multiple shootings around the country.
Syed Farook’s mother lived in the house with the couple and their six-month-old child. Investigators are currently trying to uncover what Rafia Farook knew—the couple had stockpiled weapons and were building pipe bombs in the house. For cultural or familial reasons we can see why Mother Farook did not report anything, but political correctness stopped the neighbor from filing a report. The adage ‘better safe than sorry’ is as powerful today as ever.
The question of whether such a tragedy could happen in Keizer is as important as the question about prepardness by our law enforcement agencies, schools and gathering places such as shopping centers and churches.
It is not prudent for law enforcement to tip its hand and share its response plans in case of a mass shooting. The public should be confident, though, that all our local and state law enforcement agencies do have a plan in place. We want to be confident, also, that the school district has plans on how to respond to an active shooter in or near any school.
We certainly do not advocate creating Fortress Keizer, but as we’ve seen, these things can happen anwhere, anytime. We’ve seen that this can happen anywhere, anytime.
People that harbor the darkest of impluses can lurk anywhere, even the nicest and quaintest of communities. We shouldn’t look over our shoulders in fear, nor expect the worst in others, but it is important for the public and law agencies to understand that a well-intentioned word can prevent a tragedy too hard to imagine.