Editor’s note: The following is a guest column jointly written by DeKalb County-area police chiefs and the sheriff.
The recurrence of tragedies involving gun violence, such as those in both Uvalde, Texas, and Highland Park, continue to challenge our nation on how to prevent these senseless acts.
With both grief and frustration, we desperately ask, “How do we prevent this from ever happening again?” If there was one simple answer, there would no longer be these tragedies or the fear of being a victim in a school, public place or community event.
There are many considerations in preventing these tragedies. Without question, addressing mental health and ensuring appropriate firearm regulations are two such areas in need of attention. Also vitally important is the need to identify potential problems in advance.
Over 20 years ago, the phrase “If you see something, say something” was coined to identify potential terrorist threats. That simple phrase has evolved as a proactive strategy in identifying and potentially mitigating violence.
As we continue to see senseless acts of violence and the loss of life, this phrase and strategy has never been more important.
Oftentimes people hesitate in calling the police. They may think, “It’s not a big deal,” or “I’ll be wasting their time,” or “Someone else will call.” However, a single piece of information, seemingly unimportant, may tie into something the police already know. It may connect the dots of critical information previously thought to be unrelated.
People also may hesitate because they know the person or it’s a family member. They fear reporting a concern could potentially strain a relationship or even aggravate the individual. Too many times after a tragedy comments are made about a person’s behavior that was of obvious concern but went unreported.
As members of communities, whether large or small, every one of us has the responsibility to step forward with information when a person’s behavior is of concern. You are not bothering us. We want to know if there is something or someone causing you concern.
Your information may very well be a critical piece that prevents a tragedy.
If you do not feel comfortable speaking directly to the police, you can confidentially call Crime Stoppers at 815-895-3272. For students, you can confidentially call Safe2Help at 844-4-SAFEIL or send a text to SAFE2 (72332).
So please, if you see something, say something.
Chief James Bianchi, Sandwich Police Department
Chief David Byrd, DeKalb Police Department
Chief Lin Dargis, Cortland Police Department
Chief Darren Mitchell, Northern Illinois University Police
Sheriff Andy Sullivan, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
Chief Robert Smith, Genoa Police Department
Chief Jim Winters, Sycamore Police Department