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Learning to Live with Fear
Apr 30, 2013
They are, unfortunately, an all too common sight these days: grim-faced men in helmets, goggles and body armor, weapons at the ready, dealing with a mass shooting, terrorist attack, or some other volatile situation.
They descended on Yankton one fine spring day last week. Law enforcement and emergency personnel from Yankton and Vermillion, officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, Division of Criminal Investigation and Department of Corrections, and agents of the FBI and U.S. Marshal Service, came together to deal with a hostage situation at the Yankton Federal Prison Camp.
It was only an exercise, thankfully, “but this is stuff that could happen any day,” said Lt. Mike Burgeson of the Yankton Police Department.
Indeed. In years past we might not have given such an exercise a second thought, or treated it as we might a fire drill, as preparation for something that won’t ever happen. Then 9/11 happened. Columbine happened. Aurora happened. Newtown happened. Boston happened. Between the acts of terrorists and homegrown mass murderers we have all learned to accept such horrendous events as the new normal; double digit body counts shock and sadden us, but we are no longer truly surprised. This is America in 2013.
Each of these crimes occurred far from South Dakota, and we can readily think of any number of ways we are different from such locales. We take comfort in that distance and those differences. And yet … we are forced to admit to a persistent, gnawing fear. Lt. Burgeson is right. This is stuff that could happen any day, and we recognize that we need to be prepared.
Even in South Dakota.