Pick of the Day: Sour Milk & Paper Cows.

Pickings are pretty slim tonight, but I did unearth -- or should I say, I disinterred -- this event at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. where Regina Leader-Post journalists Jana Pruden and Barb Pacholik (pictured, with Pacholik on the left) discuss the two books of true-life Saskatchewan crime stories that they've written together.

On a busier night, I might not even have mentioned this. It's not that Pruden and Pacholik don't deserve kudos for their reporting. It's just that their employer, the Leader-Post, tends to play crime and violence up pretty big. It helps sales, I know. But it also creates a distorted perception of the level of crime in our society. Yes, horrific things still happen. But overall crime rates have been dropping steadily over the last 40 years.

But when the public sees crime stories regularly played up on the front page of the local daily with graphic colour photos and inflammatory headlines it's inevitable that many will conclude crime is out of control and support stronger law and order measures and related restrictions on civil liberties in the name of safety and security. The L-P even has a Moment in Crime blog on their website that Pruden and Pacholik (and Heather Polischuck) all contribute to.

Now, I'm not an apologist for criminals. But when it comes to preserving law and order in Regina, my impression of the budgeting process is that the police basically go to City Council every year with a blank cheque for them to sign. I'm no anti-cop radical either. I have members of my extended family who have served on police forces. But in 2009, the Regina Police Services budget was over $50 million. That's 20-per cent of city expenditures. Which is a helluva lot of coin.

But with this book, Pruden and Pacholik aren't exploiting the sad fact of crime in our lives or using it to further a political agenda. They're exploring it from a sociological perspective as it relates to the unique nature of life in Saskatchewan from pioneer times on with factors like isolation, racism, poverty and dislocation all figuring in.

Should be an interesting discussion.

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