The popular television series, "Hill Street Blues," always had the briefing officer for a day's law enforcement shift breaking up the session with a reminder: "Let's be careful out there!"
Those police were going into an urban climate where innumerable perils lurked. The briefing officer's admonition, however, also can apply to less-populated locales such as Lawrence and its environs.
Think about it. A local rapper is found slain in a rural area and there is not the slightest doubt of foul play. A jeweler who lived in what seemed like a peaceful rural area is slain, apparently because he interrupted a robbery in his home. It turns out the top suspect has a long list of nefarious activities and could just as easily have been plying his criminal trade in a Lawrence home.
How many times have there been stabbings and shootings in the community in recent months, often in the wee hours of weekend mornings? There is evidence that many of the problems have been created by Topeka and Kansas City interlopers, but obviously enough Lawrence people turn out at various venues.
Perhaps it is overreacting, but many local citizens who have been there advise against venturing into the downtown Lawrence area after 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. on weekends. Most people tend to behave themselves and avoid trouble, but others seem to be looking for it. It takes only one incident to wreck a life and a family. It's no surprise people steer clear of a local region that once was so inviting and friendly.
Truth is, there are no hiding places anymore from criminals and violence, and there is no sure way to guarantee protection. It matters not if you are shot or stabbed or robbed, raped or beaten in Kansas City, Topeka or Lawrence. We all need to be more mindful of what we do, where we go and when.
As the briefing officer warned: "Let's be careful out there!"