To the people of the City of Forks and the West End: I am writing this first to express my condolences to all families affected by recent tragedies that have occurred in our community, and second to encourage hope among us all.
As a coach, I have had the opportunity to be a part of our youths’ lives and they a part of mine. As a police officer, I have at times been in a position to mentor and provide guidance to some of those same youths.
Communities involved in tragedies tend to go one of two ways. The people either come together to mourn and love one another or the pain and anger some feel results in a divide.
It has been my experience that “hurt people hurt people.” We as a community need to recognize that there are several families in pain and in need of our support.
As the song goes, there is a time for every season, whether it be mourning or celebrating, fighting or giving in, trusting or questioning.
There is, however, one constant that we must always strive to hold onto, and that is hope. It is hope that allows us to overcome the obstacles and challenges we must face.
We may never know the reason some tragedies occur. I find that focusing not on the why of a tragedy but the “what” of it is much more valuable.
What can we do for the survivors of a tragedy and their families? What can we do to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again in the future?
I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do rely on two very basic principles: First, that life is precious, and we should consider it a blessing to have known every person we have ever known. Second, whether they are rich or poor, and regardless of their race, religion, or belief system, all people matter. A community can only be strong and hopeful if all of its members treat one another with dignity and respect in every situation.
I call upon the people of the West End to stand together with hope. We must reach a point where we all consider the underage drinking and illicit drug abuse that has plagued our community — and the abuse of one another through bullying and violence — unacceptable.
The fact that completely eliminating these problems may seem insurmountable should not prevent us from doing all we can to end all forms of abuse in our community.
I hope that you will join me in supporting all those suffering from a tragedy and addressing the issues our community faces with vigilance and passion.
Mike Rowley, Forks police chief