Letter: Recent Shootings A Terrible Trend

Like the majority of my fellow Americans, I am 100 percent supportive of law enforcement officers and admire them for the difficult job they do keeping us all safe. However, the spate of recent killings of unarmed civilians is cause for great concern. Proper, meticulous training and respect for human life would eliminate most if not all of these senseless killings.

On the other hand, it is unfortunate that too many civilians have no respect for the laws whatsoever. My humble suggestion to them is quite simple: Comply first, then complain afterward. Even the most trigger-happy cop would not shoot you if you comply with their orders/instructions. Cops often have to make split-second decisions and a few would not hesitate to shoot if they think that they might be in danger if there is a threat, real or imagined. There are three types of threats: no threat, likely threat or obvious threat. We are fortunate to live in a democratic civilized society, not the wild west. Cops and civilians are interdependent. We need them, they need us, and with that in mind, I urge cops to be mindful of public perception.

Cops who kill armed or unarmed civilians are very seldom charged, and if charged are later exonerated. One exception was the Miami police officer William Lozano, who alleged that a motorcyclist was riding his cycle toward him, he feared for his life, so he shot and killed him (as opposed to moving out of the path of the motorcycle, which would have been the natural reaction). He was found guilty in a Miami court, but his attorney, Roy Black, appealed and had the case moved to Orlando, where he won the appeal.

During my military service in Europe, I observed that cops in England did not carry guns. To this day they still don’t, except for long tactical units, and in a survey not so long ago, 75 percent of them said that they would resign if they were forced to carry guns. In England, they strongly believe that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Our trigger-happy cops could learn a lot from British cops.

I grieve when a cop is killed, especially in the line of duty. Likewise, whenever an unarmed civilian is shot and killed by a cop, the devastation caused to the families of the deceased is insurmountable, and the poor cop has to live with the fact that he took the life of his fellow human being. There is much that can and should be done on both sides to end these killings. Now is a good time to start.

Karl Witter, The Acreage