EDITORIAL – ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this’ just doesn’t cut it anymore

(Image: RCMP)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

‘WE CAN’T ARREST our way out of this’ has become a common response to crime issues from politicians and police. It’s been used to describe the problem with gang violence and it’s been used in connection with drug offences.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Theresa Tam said, “We can’t arrest our way” out of the opioid crisis.

Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian has, in effect, paraphrased it when he said putting people in jail for low-level drug offences isn’t the answer.

Former attorney general David Eby said earlier this year we can’t arrest our way out of the prolific offenders problem.

Now, current Attorney General Murray Rankin has used the phrase again in response to attacks from the BC Liberals over the “catch and release” program.

Premier John Horgan backs him up. “We can’t arrest our way out of this challenge,” he says.

The constant use of this trite response is of no help. Basically, it reflects the reality that problems are complex. We get that.

But what’s lacking in that response is alternatives. The phrase is usually followed by silence on that.

The very use of the phrase ignores the complexity of the situation in the sense that it fails to separate the components, one of which is the proliferation of street-associated crime as opposed to non-related drug addictions, mental illness and housing challenges.

Can we not start with arresting the criminals and locking them up so they can’t keep offending?

In a letter sent to Eby earlier this year by 13 urban mayors, a list of prolific offenders showed that 15 of them operating in Kamloops had 491 “negative contacts” with police.

If the bail system needs changing, change it. If we need more prosecutors and faster processing of charges, let’s get them.

The longer we wait, the bolder and more dangerous the bad guys get. Stopping them while we deal with the other stuff would be a good start.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9510 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this’ just doesn’t cut it anymore

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: