First the issue with Kyle and his horrendous treatment, then the death of one of Oakland’s finest and a Tracy resident, Sgt. Mark Dunakin, and now the death of Sandra Cantu.
These devastating events happen at one time or another across the country, but rarely are concentrated such as they have for us.
There can be no doubt that Kyle, the Dunakin family and Sandra’s family will all be in need of our care and prayers for some time to come. It’s difficult for all of us as we try to reconcile such horrendous acts and the damage left behind.
The loss of Sandra strikes a chord that will be difficult to shake, but we will shake it, because Tracy is a different type of community.
This is a murder. This is one of our kids — this is just not acceptable.
Tracy is and always has been a safe city, and it can continue to be safe if we commit to seeing it through. Like so many other places where this kind of thing happens, we say, “This kind of thing doesn’t happen here.”
This pain will no doubt stay with us for a long time. It certainly has your mayor, council and police department thinking.
Just as the deliberate and amazing search-and-rescue effort has now shifted to an all-out investigation and manhunt, the need to look forward is necessary as well.
We need to do what we can to help our community cope. One of the best ways for us to process this as individuals and a community is to be active. Everybody can do something. There are a number of ways we can do so:
• Keep praying for Kyle, that he can transition to a new life; that he can become a functional, happy young man; that someday he a can tell his story to help others in some way.
• Those of you who know the Dunakin family, keep supporting Mrs. Dunakin and her children, who need to see others caring. Those who don’t know them, never forget that prayer really does make a difference. It’s what we can do when it seems like there is nothing left to give. Send a card to let them know you are thinking of them. Donate to a charity in their name. Never forget.
• For Sandra’s family, let them grieve. Grieve with them. Pray for eventual comfort and peace. Be vigilant with your own children. Know where they are — don’t just think or suppose you do. Realize that there is much more to come for them. They will need all of us to help support and get them through this time.
Know also that your mayor and City Council will continue to keep public safety as the No. 1 priority. Our commitment is now enhanced, and we will be sure that we focus on the right things and that we never drop our guard.
Our police and other supportive agencies have conducted a well-run and thorough effort in this case. This loss affects the police chief, the detectives and the officers, too.
I know, however, that they are now driven to action with renewed motivation. They will not rest.
Rise to the challenge
Once again, Tracy as a community has reacted to challenge and sorrow in a way that can only be described as a reflection of our character and values. The thousands of hours, countless vigils, fliers everywhere in California, the care, prayer and the compassion of this community are unmatched. It demonstrates how we love our town and our kids, and how we will not stand for anyone who dares to disrupt that.
Even this, too, will pass, but not without a difficult period of grief and introspection for us all.
Then we will have to answer the question: What do we do now?
I think we commit to being better parents, neighbors and citizens. We get more attentive about our children’s whereabouts, be active in our faith, get active in civic life through various clubs or city boards and commissions, and demand better of one another.
Many people came to Tracy to be in a safer environment. We now know a safe town doesn’t happen on its own, and we have to work on it every day.
So do something constructive with your hurt, despair, even your anger, and let’s work together to continue to make Tracy a great place to live and work.
God bless you and God bless Tracy.
• Brent Ives is in his second term as mayor. He’s lived in Tracy almost his whole life and has three children and four grandchildren.