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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let’s show compassion, gratitude for officers

Take a breath, Bemidji.

Following the events of last week, it’s natural that emotions would be running high. But we don’t have all the facts yet.

I personally know one of the officers involved in the shooting. I got to know him a little bit several years ago before he began serving. He has always come across to me as humble, kind and caring. He never struck me as someone who would react recklessly or with malice.

Let’s look at the reports so far. The individual who was shot had a felony warrant. He exited the vehicle with a handgun. This single action placed himself, the officers and everyone else on the scene in immediate mortal danger. Rather than reacting by immediately opening fire, one of the officers attempted to physically wrestle away his firearm, and he resisted.

We don’t yet have all the facts, and more could become known to alter perspective. However, there is no indication so far that either officer could have done more to try to avoid the shooting.

There have been a number of shootings across the country involving minority citizens. There were several cases where police officers were definitely or likely in the wrong. It is important that we hold our officers to the highest standard and that they are held accountable when they are reckless with our trust.

However, it is equally as important that we show law enforcement the gratitude, respect and benefit of the doubt they deserve. If we live in a society where an officer is guilty until proven innocent, even when initial reports are in their favor, how will we ever be able to recruit officers of character to keep us safe and enforce our laws? If we don’t show police respect and appreciation, why would any good person want to risk their life everyday to serve?

Unless and until we have a good reason not to, our reaction to these two officers should be gratitude and compassion. They and their families must be going through a lot right now, simply as a result of doing their job. We should also grieve with and comfort those who loved the citizen who tragically lost his life.

There it comes. A slow, deep breath.

Ken Cobb

Bemidji

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