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  • Last modified 38 days ago (April 20, 2022)

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Me too vs. not me

As Happens all too frequently these days, the serenity of a mild but breezy spring evening was interrupted a few days back by an unusually animated call, punctuating otherwise banal chatter on a droning police scanner.

On the line with county dispatchers were two young children, pleading that the woman of their modest home, quaintly nestled in one of the county’s smaller, rural communities, was being choked by the man of the house, who also seemed to be slamming her head into doors.

Nearly every emergency responder imaginable — including some of the top bosses in charge of public safety — rushed to the scene. The supposed attacker was gone but instantly identified, and he became subject of a massive, multi-county manhunt — for a while.

Alas, the dragnet largely was rolled up after, as one sheriff’s deputy put it, stories began to change. We’ll never know for sure what happened in that 1,100-square-foot house — whether stories changed because they initially were exaggerated or whether those telling them were too fearful of retribution or uncertainty to persist.

What we do know is that the same suspect had been charged just a few months earlier with almost exactly the same offenses — plus breaking his mate’s cell phone and endangering the couple’s 2-month-old baby.

Those charges were dropped a month later, probably after the person named as the victim decline to testify.

Kansas is in grave need of a law, like that in other states, designed to prevent domestic violence from escalating. In those states, anytime officers are called to any sort of domestic disturbance, one or other of the people involved — sometimes both — must be taken into overnight custody, regardless of whether charges are anticipated. Even on a cool spring evening, mandatory cooling off can save lives — and persuade victims to press their cases.

Many such cases involve women fearing life without their men. But even more involve men and women drinking, using drugs, or both. It’s not the drug user with a roach clip in his or her glove box that threatens our society. It’s the increasing prevalence of mind-altering substances everywhere we turn.

We long for the days when the only thing to drink at a concert or ball game was a fizzy, sugary soft drink. We worry mightily about how every event nowadays seems to require booze or drugs to be enjoyable, and we wonder how much our collective attitudes toward mind-altering substances are responsible for the mind-numbing crime and violence we seem to endure with increasing numbness.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified April 20, 2022

 

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