As I proceed deeper into the role of senior citizenship the more precious each and every life is, because like many young people death is something I just didn’t think much about. My local community is no different than that of others, but there appears to be more and more unwarranted deaths being reported in police and fire departments all over the world.
Recently a Mishawaka, Indiana police officer and his loyal K9 partner were killed when their squad car was struck while in pursuit of a fleeing offender. The driver of the fleeing car was seriously injured, but survived.
The police officer was married with two teenage daughters. The offender was a young man with a police record as long as your arm with numerous felony convictions, and was out on the streets while on parole, which specified that he should be home by 900PM. This individual had at least two prior convictions for drunk driving, and when this accident occurred his blood alcohol was nearly three times the legal limit, and his system contained traces of opiates and cocaine. He is now confined in the County Jail charged operating under the influence, two different drug charges for causing death, another for resisting law enforcement and a fifth charge for being a habitual substance offender.
An innocent family has lost their much loved husband/father and the community has lost a highly decorated law enforcement officer. The local community is now crying loudly for swift firm justice, and the County Prosecutor is calling for calm to prevent the jury pool from being polluted against the defendant. As a result of that action, your Commander asks the question…Who does the Country Prosecutor serve, the defendant or the public? I am smart enough to know that the Prosecutor serves the public while also providing information to the defense so that a fair trial can take place. In this particular case I believe his priorities are misplaced.
Our local area, like many others across the country, is currently experiencing an all too frequent and unnecessary loss of valued fellow citizens. Mishawaka is a city of about 47,000 and its Police Department has lost five officers over the past six years. The question that calls for immediate action and resolution is: Who is going to be held accountable for the fact that this offender was out on the streets of our community despite his long and serious criminal record?
The position of being a police officer is dangerous enough without the failure of the judicial system to protect those who serve the public directly. Did the local prosecutor plea down the offender’s repeated violations to expedite each case because of excessive case loads? Did the Judges who heard the offender’s cases render far too lenient judgments, which permitted this dangerous individual to be out on the streets? Did the Parole Officer fail to perform his or her duties in supervising the offender’s actions?
It is your Commander’s opinion that far too many individuals with long criminal conviction records, multiple DUI offenses, and parole violators are roaming our streets and represent accidents waiting to happen. A fine wife and two young daughters are now grieving, and the offender is now finally sitting in jail where he should have been at the time of the fatal accident. Who is to blame, and who should be held accountable? There are more individuals responsible for this unwarranted and unnecessary death of a wonderful human being and his loyal K9 partner than the offender.
As is all too frequent the case, politicians will now call for action after the fact, but again I ask: Who will be held accountable? With positions of authority and trust there must also exist a huge dose of responsibility and accountability. How many brave human beings must pay the ultimate price before some definitive action is taken that will prevent the continued unjust loss of another precious life?