After Reisterstown raid, police struggle to justify the unjustifiable

August 13, 2012

Why is it that when a police officer kills innocent civilians there's never a public apology offered by the force ("Reisterstown fatality raises concerns about police raids," Aug. 9). Surely such a gesture not only would help console grieving, traumatized survivors but also assist the police public relations effort by humanizing the officers involved in the eyes of the public.

Instead, with a disinterested air of assuredness and infallibility, police spokespersons and apologists all too often provide dismissive justification for the killings. Such steely comportment makes law enforcement agencies seem more like exterminators than public servants.

Johns Hopkins' L. Douglas Ward seemed particularly callous when he dismissed recent civilian deaths inflicted during tactical team raids by saying "that doesn't seem like an alarming number of fatalities considering the type of people were dealing with."

Excuse me? Whatever happened to the noble tenets of "zero tolerance" and 'the sanctity of life?"

At least Baltimore County police spokeswoman Cpl. Cathy Batton had the grace to explain that tactical units are employed not just for officers' safety but for the safety "of everyone involved." This would be comforting, were it not for the innocent lives lost or damaged in such raids.

Meanwhile, Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police president Cole B. Weston avers that, "police officers are alive because of the [tactical unit's] existence." Unfortunately, he neglects to mention that many innocent individuals are not alive for the same reason.

Tracy Stott, Baltimore

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