Possible the most common complaint in FB groups for this community is that there is too much crime. WEll turns out those complaints (at least in the last year) are valid.
In today's paper we read:
Everyone knew it was bad.Already in 2015 we have multiple homicides and gun crimes. ANd then there are property crimes. Maybe it is less surprising that a culture of fear appears to be descending over the city. People see someone they don't know knocking on doors and there is an assumption that they are up to no good (admittedly they people who are seen testing car doors probably warrant some suspicion).
Numbers presented by the RCMP Thursday confirm that Grande Prairie led all of Canada in both Crime and Violent Crime Severity Indexes in 2014....The news in his report went from the worst numbers in Canada to even worse: Indications are that 2015 will see elevated levels of criminal occurrences in nearly every category.2014 statsMcKenna started with the 2014 Crime Severity Index — a Stats Canada report on the numbers and types of criminal offences handled by police. All police agencies across Canada submit numbers to the index annually.While both Alberta and Canada-wide averages have decreased, Grande Prairie’s jumped by 33% in the past five years — to a rate of over 170. Cities such as Prince George, Regina and Saskatoon, which once were at the top of the list, are now seeing less crime per capita than the Swan City.It’s the same story for the Violent Crime Index, which specifically accounts for violent violations such as uttering threats, robberies, criminal harassment and forcible confinement. In 2014, Grande Prairie displaced Thunder Bay as worst in Canada and tops cities such as Winnipeg and Prince George. In 2014, it was over double the national average.
SO how do we respond? AS individuals, as members of neighbouhoods, as faith communities how do we respond?
Do we give in to the fear? Do we accept the circumstances? The RCMP and City Council aren't going to do that, even while they know that change comes slowly. You don't just create more officers by the passing of a budget motion.
But moving to greater enforcement levels is only part of the solution. An important part to be sure but only part. Because even at average numbers of officers per capita (and the stats show GP is well below that average -- another result of being a community where the population goes from 29000 to 68000 in 20 years, infrastructure and service have trouble catching up while municipal governments are under pressure to keep costs down) there will never be "enough", there are always limits as to waht can be accomplished though enforcement.
But we are people of faith. We are people who believe that GOd is at work in the world, that the Kingdom of GOd -- a place where ridiculous things like wolves lying down with labs, where the law of love and peace and justice reign supreme -- is breaking into the world in our midst. In just a few weeks people will gather in sanctuaries across this city and sing carols and tell of angels and shepherds and the birth of the Prince of Peace.
What is our Christmas prayer/wish/hope for our community this year?
Can we pray for a change? Can we believe it can happen? Can we resist the impulse to live in fear and the bunker mentality?
Jesus calls us to LIVE in hope and love. Christ calls us to proclaim the coming and the possibility of the Kingdom.
"For lo the days are hastening on, by prophet bards foretold, when with the ever-circling years shall come the age of gold. When peace shall over all the earth it ancient splendours fling. And the whole world give back the song, which now the angels sing."