Many in our community will be glad to hear that a suspect has been arrested in the death of Surrey hockey mom Julie Paskall.
The tragedy – she was attacked and clubbed while she waited for her 14-year-old son outside Newton Arena on Dec. 29 – shocked her neighbourhood, and the rest of Surrey, into action.
It raised awareness of issues that had already made many in Newton fearful of venturing outside after dark. And by and large, Surrey RCMP has responded well to residents’ calls for more police presence, including reinstating the city’s bike patrol, and more effective community policing.
This weekend’s announcement, by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, of the arrest of a 27-year-old suspect, who has been charged with second-degree murder, must come as a welcome first step toward closure for Paskall’s loved ones, friends and neighbours.
But we cannot allow it to simply become a check-mark in a box under the heading of “appropriate action.”
The charges, of course, must be proven before we can be sure that the perpetrator has been correctly identified. And the fact that the suspect is from out of the province and had only lived in the community a matter of weeks before the crime, should not have any bearing on our thinking about crime prevention.
The safety issues raised by Paskall’s death and the insecurity that people in Newton – and other areas of Surrey – have felt about the potential for violent crime have not vanished with the announcement of the arrest.
The valid concerns of the public cannot be allowed to dissipate in a sense of relief that a potential perpetrator has been found. Whatever the methods or motivations of this particular crime, we cannot lose sight of the crucial third element – opportunity.
As the city grows, our concern for the security and livability of our neighbourhoods must grow accordingly. More than simply demanding more RCMP members and more visible deployment, we should also give greater attention to the kind of city we are building.
Whatever grandiose development schemes we subscribe to, safety must be a key element of the planning process – unless we wish to see all of Surrey fall victim to a common malaise of increasingly urbanized environments.