Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tragedy and the Tragic...

It seems that around this time every year, when it looks like we might eke out the year with a low in homicides, we suddenly get a burst of violence that mars our image once more. The only news that ever makes it past the Worcester County/Hampden County line is word of the all-too common depravity of the human race. Fox 25 in Boston, for example, reported on the murders of Corey Lind and Marilyn Rivera (and her daughters) live from Monson and Springfield respectively.

With the Rivera/Delrio deaths the city's homicide rate leaps up to 20 for the year. Whether Lind's death is included in that is hard to say. Although kidnapped in Springfield, the forensics suggest he was murdered in Monson. It all happened in the same jurisdiction (Hampden County) so it really doesn't matter.

These two tragic and senseless murders, however, underscore an important difference between what we can and cannot do about crime in our society.

Lind's murder was truly one of chance and the slaying of the innocent. All the evidence says he did not know his assailant. He might as well have been a clerk in a gas station. This is the type of crime that is semi-preventable, but also one that seeps out from that realm of drug dealers killing drug dealers and domestic disputes.

The Rivera/Delrio murders on Pearl Street are equally frightening, but perhaps that is due to the murder of innocent children, neither even 10 years old. News reports indicate Rivera knew her attacker, presumably the man in custody. Thus, no matter how unnecessary and senseless the murder of the children with their mother was, all of their deaths can be called domestic dispute murders.

While WMassP&I takes no position on mayor-elect Sarno's proposal to add more cops, it is a fact that they could do nothing to stop the Rivera/Delrio murders. The media likes to note how the Rivera/Delrio murders happened within spitting distance of the police station. The implication, a common one for a periodical that likes to trash Springfield, being that the city did not do enough to protect the victims. The situation was, alas, only tragically ironic.

As for Lind, well it is unlikely that the police could have stopped that either, but having more cops would not have made Lind's death any more preventable. The city already has an above average cop to population ratio.

When plastered up on the television screen or the front page of the Republican, it all seems scary. But it is important to parse the actual facts from the situation, not just the whole sale gloom and doom.

These are tragedies and none of this needed to happen, before we are accused of insensitivity. However, it is just as important that the residents of Springfield and surrounding communities understand the differences so we can move on and try our best to not let this happen again.

*There is some conflict as to the spelling of Rivera's daughters last names. Please feel free to email corrections. Current spelling from Boston Globe

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