Letter to the Editor

Justice or revenge -- which do you want?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dear Editor:

How would the world remember the two players in Ferguson had the tables been turned?

If Officer Wilson had not stopped the threat by firing on Brown and Brown had taken Wilson's gun, killed Wilson, and done who knows what with the gun, possibly robbing or killing others, how would you remember each?

Would Wilson have died a hero? Or, would he be remembered as a weak officer who did not do the job he was sworn to do. His inaction would have been seen as a weakness by the police to enforce the laws that all non-police citizens know soooo much about.

And what would have come of Brown? If found guilty, would we have spent the next 30 years feeding him and providing medical care for him while the Al Sharptons of the world defend his actions and blame society for them?

Perhaps the blame should lie on those responsible: the parents. How would they remember each? He was obviously raised with no respect for authority. Every young man needs a firm hand on his shoulder when he reaches the age of "I'm all grown-up" independence. He obviously had none. Where were the Jesse Jacksons and other community leaders who are so sure mentoring and "the Village" are so vital in the responsibility of raising children?

I am well aware there are a lot of young police officers out there who are just itching for an excuse to use force and look for a reason to escalate a simple contact into a dispute. As a young officer, my best supervisors were the Korean War and Vietnam War veterans who really knew how to run a shift and keep a thumb on the young, restless newcomers. I fear that kind of self-reliant discipline is a thing of the past and too often, young officers are left as loose cannons to learn the lessons the hard way. No matter the age, size, or attitude of the officer, if I punch one in the face and reach for his side arm, I expect that I will be shot, at least once. Who wouldn't?

Apparently Officer Wilson had enough years of service to rise above prejudice and youthful exuberance. He had just assisted as a first responder and gave aid to an infant until EMS arrived. He was pummeled in the face by a larger individual who had tried to remove his weapon and shot the suspect in the hand while still in his car. The suspect then taunted him and dared him to arrest him. He was trying to make a lawful arrest when he was attacked by the larger suspect. With your muscles charged with adrenaline from the fight and the gunshots within the car, what would you have done? Have you ever been hit so hard that your eyes blur and tear and your legs weaken?

One piece of academy advice that sticks with me is: "If they knock you senseless and get your gun, the last thing you will hear will be the click of your hammer coming forward just before the bullet goes through your skull." Similar words were no doubt ringing in Wilson's mind.

The protestors say they are crying for justice. The grand jury answered that cry by listening to the facts and the evidence. What the protestors really want is revenge. Justice requires the gathering of facts, examination of evidence, and following the rule of law. It is administered blindly, without emotion. It is the bedrock of our republic. Revenge only requires emotion.

Greg Kepler