The Most Important Words: At A Crime Scene

The police chief just arrives on the scene. How could he miss it. Stanley is a small town, not so large that you couldn’t hear gunshots going off downtown from your home. He pulled up in a hurry, scattering dust and dirt everywhere. The summer drought really tore up their town, not only its physical vibrancy, but the minds of it’s people as well. Crime was at an all-time high. The chief quickly motions to you and joins as you’re encircling the site: cars parked in a half circle, blocking the street, lights shining blindingly at the entrance to a bank; officers with their shotguns drawn, pointing them through windows or over the hoods of their vehicles; A helicopter circles above. Some big time crooks are robbing the bank and the police chief wants an update, now. What’s the first thing you tell him, the most encompassing vital fact that explicitly needs to be the first thing he hears?

What makes crime matter to us is that it has potential to involve harm to something. The most significant crimes are ones in which this harm happens to a human. If you rob someone of a million dollars but no one is in threat of being hurt, decisions resulting in loss are easier to swallow, for loss is only monetary. However, if you rob someone and women, children, men have fate at the end of a shotgun barrel, ears perk and sweat beads drip. “Sir, we’ve got a robbery”, “Sir, there’s a quarter of a billion dollars in there”, “Sir, shots fired!”…all are insignificant in scope to the most important words at a crime scene: “Sir, we’ve got a hostage situation.”

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