I put together a brief update Friday about the police investigation into the death of a man who was stabbed in the chest Thursday night. The item published on the Daily Republic’s website and in Saturday’s print edition. I reported the death as Vacaville’s first homicide of the year.
That nugget of information unleashed an interesting string of comments on our website.
Some of the comments were the type we’ve come to expect: People purportedly from Fairfield noting how Vacaville is not as safe as residents there are encouraged to believe; those likely from Vacaville who write in a derogatory manner about Fairfield’s violent crime; and those who come to the defense of their city’s police while putting down the neighbor city’s police.
Then there was the criticism directed at the Daily Republic.
Some commenters chastised the DR – and me since I wrote the item – for not being able to properly count. Their premise: that this is not Vacaville’s first homicide of the year, but rather its second. Their proof: the death of Robert Thomas III, 43, of Fairfield, whose body was found in the debris of a July 9 fire at a nursery located on the 6700 block of Pleasants Valley Road. That case has also been ruled a homicide.
It’s true that the nursery has a Vacaville mailing address, but it is not located within the city limits of Vacaville. As such, the case is not being investigated by Vacaville police, but rather by Solano County sheriff’s detectives. So while one plus one equals two in terms of homicides this year in the Vacaville area, Thursday’s homicide represents the city’s first homicide of the year.
Others who have commented on the article pointed out what I’m relating here, that this is Vacaville’s first homicide of the year. I appreciate their discerning nature, and their willingness to jump into the discussion and steer it back to a reasonable path. Beyond that, the comments on this particular post illustrate something we’ve wrestled with here at the DR for quite some time, that is, the nature of comments on our website and the desire to make our website a safe place for community discussion.
That was much easier, although more time-consuming, prior to our switch to WordPress software to power our website. Prior to that, people who wished to comment on our website had to be registered users, so we knew who they all were. Beyond that, all comments were held in moderation until approved for publication.
There are practical and legal reasons why we moved away from that process.
The current website – as well as our initial WordPress website – represents a modern platform and also serves as the software we use to produce the articles you see online and in print. We no longer know who all the people are who comment on our website. That’s created something of a Wild West mentality among some commenters, who create monikers under which they write on various topics of the day. Others understand what we’re attempting to provide on the website. They tend to comment under their own names.
Let’s get back to the Vacaville-area homicides.
We as a community should not get so wrapped up in our specific city that we fail to recognize the significance of violent crime in neighboring communities. Those who live in Fairfield should be concerned about violent crime in Vallejo. That’s one reason why we report on some of the Vallejo violence even though we have very few subscribers in Vallejo. Likewise, people in Vacaville should be concerned about violent crime in Fairfield and Vallejo, just as Fairfield residents should also be concerned about violent crimes in Vacaville.
These three cities – Solano County’s largest – represent roughly 325,000 of the county’s 425,000 residents and are located within close proximity to one another. What happens in one city can easily move to the others – and often does.
Our reaction to deadly violence – as members of the larger Solano County community – should be one of condemnation. We should seek the sources of this violence, and work to eliminate the threats. That’s often as simple as calling the police to report suspicious activity or actual crimes as they occur, and cooperating with authorities as they investigate those incidents.
Here’s a good place to start: Anyone with any information about the July 9 death of Thomas should call the Solano County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Bureau at 784-7050. Anyone with information about Thursday’s homicide in Vacaville should call Detective Mark Ferreira at 449-5258.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.