Police visibility helps keep Brookings safe, says student


Eric Ariel L. Salas

Brookings, S.D., seems to have a zero crime rate. When you watch the early evening newscast, you hardly hear anything about Brookings. If there is something to broadcast, it will most likely be about road mishaps, or the state of the cold winter weather, or the state of the economy. None of such nature like men on motorcycles firing guns at a politician’s house, or men robbing a bank located just across from the police station, or a truck driver intentionally running over a person twice — you know, the type of crimes that some countries consider okay, fine or ordinary. If you want to see something tragic in Brookings, you would get frustrated.

I think the most catastrophic crime that can be committed in this small city is bike stealing. Funny, but I am quite certain it is. Inasmuch as I would want to believe that there should be a single major crime somewhere, there is just none. Because Brookings apparently knows nothing but peace (this should not be translated as boring).

Before I had my car, I used to walk long distances in the middle of the night. I even walked to the supermarket at like 1 a.m. and still felt safe. Never was there a time that my hair stood on end for fear of being stopped by a hold-upper. The sight of university police cars doing their rounds at night are a good indication that there are eyes safeguarding the place. Although I seldom hear the police siren blaring at night, when I do hear it, I know it is not something serious.

Going back to the stealing story, last summer, I became a witness of a petty crime of bike stealing. It happened at one of the student halls, just across from my previous rented apartment, at the time of day when the sun was beginning to wrap up its last few beams.

The perpetrators? Two men, probably college students. Since my room was facing the student halls, I clearly saw how the guys took the bikes from a row of bikes parked on the rack. First, they monitored the surroundings for human presence – the usual first step to a perfect crime. When assured that no one was within distance of them, they started to force open the bicycle locks, one after the other. I am not sure how they took the chains out, if they had metal cutters or what. I am certain, however, that the bikes were not theirs. They managed to steal two at first and took them somewhere to the other side of the hall. A few moments later, they came back for another bicycle.

The students were probably just doing it for fun. Unlike in some other big cities where stolen bicycles are sold for profits, here in Brookings, they are thrown in the middle of the field or hidden in bushes. In some weird cases, the bikes are hung on trees and some others disassembled. I have a friend who lost his bike in Wecota and found it at The Union the following day, like someone was in a hurry and borrowed it for a ride.

Deadly crimes in Brookings seem non-existent. As a university town with parents hoping their kids will be safe all the time, Brookings must be crime-free. How the police keep the public peace by patrolling day in and day out is something law-breakers are afraid about and the public should be thankful for.

Visit Eric’s blog at www.braincontour.com.