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Shooting at Ward Parkway: How the media unbalances crime

The wife and I came home this evening from our weekend with my parents in good old St. Louis. After getting settled in, unpacking and checking email, we find that Juri’s brother from Japan sent a concerned note about a Kansas City shooting. Immediately, I’m surprised that he would know about something like that. Shootings are common here. Shooting homicides are also too common. Probably 50 a year in the KC metro area. I’ll have to fact check that statistic though, it fluctuates. Why does he hear about this one though? Apparently, the echoes of another random act of violence in middle America was heard in Japan and China and likely other places. Thanks to the media, everyone in the world can be made to believe that random shootings are the world’s greatest threat.

Ward Parkway shooting CNN

Juri and I frequent this mall. We probably walk the same path as the shooter did once every two weeks. Starbucks, Target, and several shops in between. We might have been there today if it wasn’t for the trip to see my parents. But I’m not dwelling on that. I’ll be back at that mall in a matter of days. I’ll see Spiderman 3 or stock up on some cotton swabs. I don’t let my perception get too skewed by things like these. Why? Because reality is, there is more to be concerned about in my neighborhood in regards to smaller crime than there is with something random like this. When I went on a ride with the Kansas City Metro Patrol last year, the officers told me that they wouldn’t want to take their family to the plaza because it’s a dangerous place. Crime happens all the time there, in the garages around corners. They said “You know why you don’t hear about it right? Because the city wants you to keep shopping there, so the stories get buried or killed.”

That’s comforting!

Actually, our mall has done an excellent job over the past 24 months. We’ve lost our bookstore there, but we’ve gained several cosmetic upgrades, Old Navy, a big shoe store, several parking lot beatifications and the mall-goers have always been pretty pleasant. Security is also quick on the job there. While shopping on afternoon, I watched a man, having some sort of mental episode, shove a clerk at a kiosk onto the floor. It took about twenty seconds for two guards to show up and check on the guy and the clerk.

*Update*

I met with some public officials in Kurashiki, Japan this past week. We are preparing for a large exchange of close to 500 Japanese later in the summer. We talked about security and ensuring safety of the younger folks going on the trip. They immediately brought up the only scary Kansas City story they had heard about, the Ward Parkway shooting. They wanted to know how far the shopping mall was from the dormitories they are staying in. I assured them that they were safe as long as they didn’t watch the news.

April 30, 2007 at 12:49 am | guns, media, police, politics | 1 comment