EDITORIAL: In the face of criticism

Thankfully, this city’s police force bases time-pressured decisions on public safety, not public opinion.

Thankfully, this city’s police force bases  time-pressured decisions on public safety, not public opinion.

Once it was decided to shoot a cow running loose in a congested business/residential area of the city on Sunday, Abbotsford Police were certain to be heavily criticized by many.

Regardless, that was the step taken, after officers had followed the animal for several kilometres as it left a rural area, crossed Highway 1, and then wandered through yards and busy business parking lots in east Abbotsford.

Attempts to contain it, and find help in corralling or capturing the animal were not successful, nor was locating the owner, and the longer the creature was running loose, the greater the potential of a collision with a vehicle, and people getting injured.

It’s easy for armchair critics to make suggestions that seem quite reasonable – in the aftermath. However, many of those “obvious” alternatives didn’t exist.

Police don’t carry tranquilizer guns, and it’s not practical to do so. Conservation officers don’t deal with farm animals, and are under-resourced, in any event. There’s no local list of wranglers, ready at a moment’s notice with horse and lasso.

To leave the cow to wander under-disturbed was not an option, as it could have simply disappeared from view among buildings and bush, and reappear elsewhere, in front of a car on a busy road.

The decision to shoot it was a tough one, but based on justifiable reasoning.

Police will review the incident, as so they should, particularly given the fact that an officer fired 24 rounds from a patrol rifle to kill the animal. If we have it correct, that weapon isn’t designed to take down large creatures like a cow, and that may be why so many shots were fired.

That question will be no doubt be addressed in the review, along with what alternatives can be made available should such a situation occur again, which in an agricultural area, is possible.

Meanwhile, people might take a moment to appreciate that the Abbotsford Police were entirely forthcoming on the details of an optically uncomfortable incident, and we anticipate they’ll be equally so with the review results.