Friday, February 8, 2013

Serve and Protect

More than 100 officers from various jurisdictions involved in an extensive manhunt as a snowstorm threatens.

More than 40 protection details to guard potential targets.

Two pickup trucks that officers believed matched the description of the suspect's vehicle were fired upon by police officers. Two women delivering newspapers in one truck were injured, and one is hospitalized.

Within less than a week, a former LAPD officer has gone from being unheard-of to "arguably the most wanted man in America."

Thus far, Christopher Dorner has killed three and wounded two. But the fact that the wounded and one of the dead were police officers, another of the dead was the daughter of a police officer and his "manifesto" lists police officers as targets has sparked a massive police response that has even jeopardized civilians.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, witnesses to gang shootings are afraid to come forward, fearing that they'll be the next targets and not trusting the police department to protect them. This has lead to vicious circle, culminating in a clearance rate for murders that is less than half of what is was 20 years ago, even though the number of murders has also dropped to less than 50% of what it was at the time. But while the police union says that it's because there are fewer detectives, and Chicago Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrne complains about the unwillingness of citizens to come forward, in California, law enforcement is taking things into its own hands.

There is nothing wrong with this level of effort being put into tracking down a man who has taken the lives of others. But when police agencies put this level of effort into hunting for someone who hurts one of their own, citizens wonder why they're not entitled to the same. And this leads to communities coming to the conclusion that law enforcement doesn't care about them. Of course, it's doubtful that this intense response could be mounted after every shooting, even in cases where a suspect was being sought in connection with multiple homicides. But to be so selective in such a public case looks bad, and in situations like this, appearances are often reality.

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