Just two full weeks into the month of October 2016 and four of our law enforcement community have lost their lives in three separate incidents within the United States. It is of significance to point out that these were not members of our military community fighting in foreign lands…… it was police officers dying at the hands of individuals who hate them for the uniform they wear and the desire to kill them. Most of this..is in part due to the decline here in America that results in lack of values or morals, and as such, they feel so inclined and justified in what they are doing and perhaps even encouraged by the rhetoric of others.
All of us mourn the loss of Los Angeles County , California Sheriff ,Sergeant Steve Owen, who was fatally shot after responding to a burglary call behind an apartment complex in Lancaster, California on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016. The suspect then attempted to flee the area in the Sergeants patrol vehicle but was stopped after he rammed the vehicle into another Sheriff’s vehicle and was arrested in a nearby yard. Sergeant Steve Owen was a 29 year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Depart and was well known and respected within the community he served. He responded to a routine call for service just as he had for twenty-nine years prior to this day and now he is gone.
All of us mourn the loss of St. Louis County, Missouri, Police Officer Blake Snyder, who was fatally shot and killed “almost immediately” after stepping out of his vehicle and approaching an 18 year old sitting in his car shortly after 5 am, in the small city of Green Park on Thursday, October 6th, 2016. Officer Blake Snyder, 33 years old, was a police officer of four years, left a wife and two year old son to continue without him. Officer Snyder asked to see the suspects hands just as the suspect produced a firearm and shot the officer.
All of us mourn the loss of two Palm Springs, California, Police Officers fatally shot and killed on Saturday, October 8th, 2016, and the wounding of a third officer who responded to a domestic violence call and were shot by the suspect who wanted to “shoot police officers.” Officer Jose “Gil” Vega, 63, was a 35 year veteran of the Palm Springs Police Department, who was scheduled to retire in December 2016. He was a father, grandfather, husband, who was well liked by all. Officer Lesley Zerebny, 27, a member of the Palm Springs Police Department for under two years leaves behind a four month old child and husband who works with the Riverside County Sheriff Department. Officer Vega responded to a Domestic violence call just has he had on many occasions in his thirty-five year career and now he is gone, along with Officer Zerebny who was young and just gave birth to a baby four months ago and now she too is gone. Someone from above saved the life of a third Palm Spring Officer on this day.
America, I hear no outrage at the loss of such fine men and women.. and that disturbs me. Nothing good will be the outcome of all this. Does anyone pay attention to how freedom works in Russia, China, Iran and some other third world countries? I hear the discontent by some saying that their lives are jeopardized by the actions of law enforcement in their communities. But what I don’t hear or see is much of the American population coming to the aid of the overall law enforcement community when they are hurting mentally and dying at the hands of that “hate.” For over ten years, hate has been killing our kids in schools all across America, now that we are used to seeing that ,hate is killing our police officers and some are trying to portray such acts as “justified.” Where have we failed? I recently read where a current police officer has his gun everywhere he goes, even outside to mow the lawn. He locks his house while he takes a shower. Such paranoid behavior is caused by those who feel a real threat to their safety and well being. It would not be uncommon for our Police officers to feel ” its us against them” and react accordingly.
When my son served as a Marine in Iraq and a Marine was killed in combat, in honor to the fallen Marine and family, all communication was stopped until the fallen Marine’s family could be notified. Those of us who had Marines fighting in Iraq sat and worried that we may see a military vehicle driving up the county dirt road and were very thankful when it was not our child, but we still felt pain for the family of the fallen Marine. I feel that same pain each and every time I see a police officer killed in the line of duty.
In my heart I feel many of my fellow Americans feel the same way about our Law Enforcement Community, however too many in this country just use them as pawns who seek political office and say what they feel will gain them the most votes. I continue to hear politicians say our officers of today are lacking…..need better training and place the blame on the law enforcement community for what is going on in our country today. However, I never hear any of the politicians take any responsibility for their part in failed policies that have caused so much hate and distrust directed at the police in particular. Rather than the reality, which is the results of generations of failed political policies within communities. It is not the responsibility of law enforcement to provide our young people with good jobs that pay a good days pay for a good days work, good schools that provide a good education, good quality housing with good safe neighborhoods. No, the politicians would rather provide pay for no work, provide things that are not deserved or earned and that is how they have handled it for over fifty years. It falls on the shoulders of our two main political parties, and those who elect them into office to make sure they hold them all accountable for what they promise or just continue to say nothing, do nothing and then see how long we as a country will survive.
Michael S. Smith