The Editor’s Desk: There’s no right to know

Think you have a right to know all about the recent police manhunt? Think again

When I was younger my father — a retired Mountie — said that the two best TV depictions of what it was actually like to be a police officer were Hill Street Blues and Barney Miller: the former because it was a realistic picture of what it was like to be a police officer, the latter because it accurately showed the camaraderie of the police force.

I haven’t watched many police shows since those days, so have largely missed the Law and Order franchise, the various iterations of CSI, the many “cold case” series out there, and all but one or two of the British police shows that regularly turn up on PBS. Just because I don’t watch them, however, doesn’t mean I don’t know of them, and a criticism I have heard levelled at many of these shows — particularly anything dealing with forensics — is the unrealistic expectations they give people of how, and how fast, things work in the real world.

At the height of what seemed to be an epidemic of severed feet washing up on the shores of the Salish Sea, a weary police officer appeared on the TV news, and was asked why it was taking so long to identify the victims. “Because this isn’t a TV show and it takes us longer than 45 minutes plus ads,” was her somewhat exasperated response. Something in the way she said it made me suspect that this wasn’t the first time she had been asked that question, and she was no more fond of it than she had been the first time. I’ve also heard lawyers and judges express concern about unrealistic expectations of jurors in court cases when it comes to things like DNA evidence.

Which brings me to the current hit TV show playing out before an enthralled audience. You know the one: it’s about a gripping countrywide manhunt for two teens suspected of randomly killing three people and then going on the run, leading law enforcement officials on a desperate chase. In last week’s episode two bodies were found in the vicinity of where the teens were last seen, and in this week’s episode police confirmed that the deceased were indeed the wanted men.

However, there is a sense that viewers are getting frustrated. The writers have been criticized for the show’s leisurely pacing and lack (so far) of answers to many questions, as well as the fact that there is a gap between episodes, particularly now that producers have said that it could be several weeks before the next one is released.

Of course, I’m not talking about a TV series; I’m describing a tragic real-life event that has caused untold pain for the family and friends of the victims, as well as of the alleged murderers. But you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a TV show, particularly when you read comments from viewers — sorry, people — who have not been slow to denounce what they see as a lack of information released by the RCMP, in terms of both timing and details.

“We need to know the answers!” is a common complaint. “We need to know what police know, and when they knew it! We deserve to be told! We need more updates!”

I’m sorry to break it to these people, but no: we neither need nor deserve to know. (By “we” I mean the general public; I would not be surprised to learn that the families of those concerned are privy to information that has not been released publicly.) I understand that this was a big, gripping, international-headline-making case that had people on the edge of their seats, but it’s real life, not CSI: Northern Canada, and none of us have a “right” to know any more about it than what the RCMP feel they can, and should, release at a given time.

I’m sure the answers to many of the questions people have will be answered in due course. Until then, we all need to realize we’re not entitled to facts about the case just because we’re curious. Rather than criticize the police, be thankful that they were there when needed, doing a difficult job, and were ultimately successful in ensuring that people in the areas where the killings took place and the killers ended up are able to sleep safely once more.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

New Eco-Depot site proposed for Ashcroft, Cache Creek

TNRD staff directed to pursue the ourchase of property at the former chip relaod site off Highway 1

Oregon couple’s stolen truck located at Deep Creek, boat still missing

Jim and Kathy Jantz are thankful for the help they have received so far in Williams Lake

Two bodies found near Spences Bridge confirmed as those of missing Surrey men

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Many hands make light work at historic Cornwall fire lookout

Volunteers worked to restore the site, which a Journal reader remembers from a 1955 visit

Phase 2 work set to get started at 10 Mile Slide site

Work is projected to be complete by spring 2021 and will be monitored for two more years

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Most Read