At the Airdrie City View, I’m known as the city reporter. This means I cover Airdrie City council and any issues that involve city hall or that might impact residents.
Sometimes this means I struggle to understand complex issues in a short period of time - the City Plan, a private school’s legal battle with a general contractor or the impact on families after the sudden closure of a daycare spring to mind.
But what really gives me pause and taxes my brain is covering RCMP. These are the stories that most often make me go ‘huh?’
I’ve long believed there are no smart people in jail. Why? Because if they were smart they wouldn’t have done whatever stupid thing it was that landed them in jail, or they wouldn’t have got caught.
Covering RCMP has not dissuaded me of this belief.
I’ve written stories about thieves who broke into a dollar store to steal Silly String, about a guy so drunk he tried to steal a tow truck, with the tow truck driver hanging off the towed vehicle, and about the sad results of people who decide to be really stupid and drink and drive.
It all makes me shake my head. Why, I wonder, do some of my fellow human beings do such ridiculous things?
If I’m left shaking my head, I can’t even imagine how the general duty officers at the Airdrie RCMP detachment must feel sometimes. They must be really good at keeping a poker face. I’d make a lousy poker player.
Which is why it’s such a good thing we have people willing to do that work. I have the utmost admiration for the men and women who wear the red serge and work to protect our city. It is sometimes, I’m sure, a thankless task.
Being a reporter covering the RCMP means I sometimes hear more about the seedier side of life than, if I’m honest, I’d really care to. It can be a bit soul destroying.
In the midst of covering the Liknes/O’Brien murders, for instance, I felt like I needed to go home at the end of each day and shower off all the “ick”. That’s when I start begging my editor to give me something nice and light and fluffy to cover, preferably involving puppies.
I like to think I’m doing something important, though, when I report on these issues. It’s important that people know why their morning commute was interrupted by a serious accident on Highway 2 southbound or about an increase in car prowlings in our neighbourhoods.
And if I can help communicate what happens at Airdrie city council meetings so residents get a picture of how their community is being managed, I’m happy to give up every second Monday night to go sit in council chambers, sometimes for hours, and stress out on Tuesdays to get the stories written by deadline.
OK, maybe I’m not happy about it, but I’m willing to do it, as long as there’s a plentiful supply of tea to keep me awake. (Sorry, City council, but sometimes those agenda items are less than stimulating).
On the flip side, I now know a little about a lot of things, because of this work I do. I know that our RCMP officer to population ratio isn’t high enough, and that how our communities are planned involves a whole lot more than just some graph paper, a pencil and a ruler.
I know that a resident has the ability to come before council during Public Question Period and ask a question of the mayor and aldermen.
I know that Airdrie moms (and dads) are passionate about keeping their kids safe from speeders in school zones.
And I know that Airdrie is my very favourite place to live and work.
Oh look, another RCMP drug seizure press release just popped into my inbox. Gotta go.