EDITORIAL: A need for communication

There’s something to be said for officials keeping people in the loop.

There’s something to be said for officials keeping people in the loop.

Accurate information can go a long ways in helping people understand decisions or situations; it allows them to be part of a conversation, rather than simply witnesses to it.

In the most serious cases, information offered en masse keeps the masses safe; in others, it merely negates the need for inquiry after inquiry to officials.

In short, timely release of information can help keep the peace.

Cities are among organizations that would be well-advised to take the practice to heart.

Like most everyone – individuals and groups alike – city officials usually are quick to trumpet good news, be it recognition for a worthwhile cause or a grant they’ve awarded or received with our tax dollars. But when it comes to touchier subjects – whether that touchiness is perceived or actual – it appears a wall of sorts can be erected around city hall.

Last week’s announcement of an Aug. 20 pit bull attack that left a White Rock senior with serious injuries to her hand is a case in point.

Beyond distributing a news release on the evening of Aug. 29 – more than a week after the incident occurred – stating the attack took place during a morning walk, that bylaw officers deemed the pit bull “aggressive” and that the city is “considering taking serious action against the owner of the pit bull, as well as the dog itself,” no further information has been shared by the city, not even the breed of the victim’s dog, which also suffered significant injuries in the attack.

While this gap has been justified as a means of protecting privacy – at the victim’s request – the City of White Rock has taken it further than necessary, to the consternation of other residents.

At the very least, the area of the city where it occurred should be shared – was it on White Rock’s east side? West side? In the Town Centre? By the beach? Near a playground or school?

What few additional details have come to light have been courtesy Coun. Lynne Sinclair, who, when asked, told Peace Arch News the dog has been ordered muzzled when out in public.

It is some comfort, but not enough. Residents want to know if the pit bull in question is one that lives in their neighbourhood or one that their families may encounter on their walks. They want to know more to keep their loved ones safe.

If that information potentially leads others to identifying the victim – or indeed the owner of the pit bull – it’s a small price to pay for others’ peace of mind.

 

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