Our Police Are Not The Bad Guys

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - June 07, 2006

I am not sure when our society turned on our law enforcement professionals, but there seems to be a growing opinion of them as the enemy.

I know there are reasons why citizens can be critical and even cynical about law enforcement. There are some crooked cops. There are those who may take the law into their own hands. But the vast majority of those in uniform are doing their very best to serve as our protectors and advocates. We should root out those who denigrate the profession and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law which they are charged to uphold. But we should take the time to celebrate those who, day in and day out, perform admirably and with honor.

My concern about attitudes toward law enforcement was piqued recently when a caller to my radio program asked Gov. Linda Lingle a question about the prisoner who was recently shot and killed while trying to escape in Hilo. To paraphrase, he queried the governor as to when prison guards will be adequately trained not to act as judge and executioner. The implication of his call was the law enforcement officer deliberately sentenced this prisoner to death and then purposefully carried out the appropriate sentence. The governor correctly disagreed with the caller’s premise and the conversation ended.

But the fact that there are those who come to these outlandish conclusions is worrisome. The prisoner is the one who is responsible for his own death. It was his conduct that demanded a response. If you don’t want to get shot, don’t try to escape.

I remember the Dustan Long case - the Wahiawa man shot by police at a party in 2001. The controversy in that case seemed to linger. Despite 911 calls reporting a large scale fight with gunshots fired, Honolulu police found themselves needing to defend their actions. Long, 20, had already sent two men to the hospital with gunshot wounds and had fired upon officers at least twice before an HPD sharpshooter took him down. Even when the suspect was armed and firing upon officers, there were those who maintained the police were wrong: They were brutal. The shooting was unnecessary. It was the trigger-happy cop’s fault. Some in the community viewed the police that night as the bad guys.

Comments and attitudes such as these make me sick. Who was going to stop the mayhem? Who was going to protect the community from the violence? The sideline, Monday morning, pony-tailed quarterbacks?

Of course not.

The men and women who protect our community every day should be thanked. How many of you would be prepared to do the job they do? How many of you would put your life on the line each time you leave your house to go to work? Police officers deal with people of all walks of life. They must be able to work with the rich retiree as well as the drug-addled vagrant. The reality of their day is the uncertainty of what may come. It could be a fairly uneventful day or he or she may be looking down the barrel of a gun. On top of that, their each and every move is under a microscope of politicians, citizens, media and their own.

Throw in the pressures of the job and the balancing act of everyday life, and I can’t help to give these folks all the attaboys and attagirls I can muster.

Our very existence as a free nation is based on the rule of law. The front line in maintaining order in our society is the police officer. Without a dedicated and professional police force, we would devolve into anarchy. I believe those dedicating their lives to protect ours deserve our respect and appreciation. Most times when you hear about HPD or other law enforcement officials, there is some controversial story on either side of the law. Rarely do you see thanks expressed for a job well done. Well, here it is.


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