KATIE ZERR: Local attitudes need to change with times
Several recent incidents in Mobridge makes one resigned to the fact that no matter how wonderful a place Mobridge and South Dakota can be, what happens outside of our community has an impact on what happens inside our community.
On Monday, Nov. 4, Mobridge Police Chief Justin Jungwirth gave Officer Jordan Majeske an award of merit for keeping a cool head while face-to-face with an intoxicated individual with a loaded gun in his possession. Officers were called after neighbors heard gunshots in the Fifth Avenue West neighborhood near Eighth Street.
Not knowing exactly what they were walking into, Majeske and Corson County Deputy Mike Varilek, who was just getting off-duty, went in search of an individual or individuals that had already fired a gun. When they came upon an individual in a dark alley, they didn’t know for sure if this was the person who already fired the weapon. But they knew there was the possibility that this intoxicated individual had a loaded gun.
Fortunately, the officers took the individual into custody without anyone getting hurt.
On Friday, a caller reported a man had told the caller he had a gun and was going after someone they worked with who was camping near Mobridge. This individual threatened a man and his son. The caller reported he feared the individual with the gun had intent to use it. Officers searched the area and watched for that individual, but did not come in contact with him.
Then on Sunday, a caller reported a group of intoxicated individuals were sitting on the steps of a Seventh Avenue West apartment building and one of them was in possession of a pistol.
Officers do not know what they are walking into when these types of calls come in and must answer the calls with the utmost urgency and caution.
That gun turned out to be a pellet gun, but this incident could have ended in a different manner.
There have been incidents across the country in which individuals have been in tragic situations of their own making because they didn’t think about the consequences of the social atmosphere.
Last month, a sheriff’s deputy mistakenly thought he saw a teen carrying an assault rifle on a California street and shot him dead. It turned out the 13-year-old boy was carrying two fake guns, a replica AK-47 and a fake pistol. This young man is dead because every day people with weapons are causing havoc in neighborhoods across the country.
It seems that every day we hear about incidents in which a person has taken a weapon into a school, a church, a shopping mall or airport with the intent to do harm to as many individuals as possible.
Even in small town American officers cannot treat calls about weapons with the attitude that some drunk is just “whooping it up” and using his weapon as part of the fun.
We are asking more and more of our officers in a geographical situation where anything has become possible. With the explosion of the oil fields in North Dakota, more people are traveling through and staying in our community. People are much more transient than they used to be and more people who were not born here and raised here now live or stay here.
We have no longer know who they are or from where they come. We no longer know their parents or what their home life is about. Our community has changed and we need to change our attitudes towards the culture and our police.
A local officer was once able to talk to the intoxicated individual and take a gun, whether it is real or not, out of his or her hand. Those days are long over. Those individuals who make the decision to carry a weapon, fake or otherwise, may find themselves looking down the barrels of weapons in the hands of the law. They had better comply with orders given by officers, whether they think it is necessary or not, or the situation could quickly escalate.
Gone are the days when a neighbor kid would zoom by on his bike, BB gun raised in the air as a message to others to join in the hunt for gophers.
It is the culture that we have created that has made this act of innocence a thing of the past. We don’t live in Mayberry anymore.
It is sad, but it is of our own making.