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'Setting a record' doesn't change the fundamentals

Friday, November 8, 2013 - 12:01 am

We still need to do the same things to make the community safe.

Whenever a record number of something is achieved, there is a tendency to overreact or reach for lessons that just aren't there.

The shooting Wednesday across from South Side High School represented Allen County's 41st homicide of the year, which puts us near the all-time record of 44 set in 1997, so that means it's time for full-panic mode. Officials and ordinary citizens alike are agonizing over the number and wondering what can be done to stem the tide.

But the truth is that there is no fundamental change in Allen County just because some arbitrary number has been reached, and there is no fundamental change in what the community's response should be. Whether there are 44 homicides in a year, or 15 or 100, we still need to do the same things and avoid the same things to make Fort Wayne as safe as it can be.

Do we need, for example, more jobs and a healthier economy, as was suggested to a special City Council meeting devoted to the homicide spike? Certainly, but because those are always desirable, not because it will keep people from killing one another. Making a link between poverty is a little simplistic and an insult to poor people.

Is the rise in single-parent families a contributing factor to the social pathology creating violent crimes, as one councilman suggested? Absolutely, but how can that problem be addressed by the larger community?

Don't misunderstand. We do not mean to make light of the numbers or suggest there's nothing that can be done.

But the truth is that in every society, the most depraved find a way to prey on the most vulnerable. The duty of society is always the same – protect the vulnerable as much as we can and punish the wicked as much as they deserve. We can never say a community is as safe as it should be, but if we do those two things it will be as same as it can be.

Gora will be a tough act to follow

When Jo Ann Gora took over as president of Ball State University 10 years ago, she declined the traditional fancy inaugurate and instead used the money to establish a scholarship fund. That could have been one of those showy but meaningless gestures, but we can now see that it was symbolic of her commitment to Ball State's mission.

Gora has announced her retirement, and she'll be a tough act to follow. She has greatly improved the physical campus, strengthened academic programs raised more money than the university has ever seen. Most of all, she has raised Ball State's standing in the world of higher education.