It’s been a deadly 24 hours for police officers around the country, especially in Florida, where two shootings in just over a week have left five officers dead. When do we start having the conversation about how law enforcement can possibly do its job in a country that’s armed like a perpetual war zone?
From CBS 4 Miami:
MIAMI (CBS4) – The memorial for two slain Miami-Dade police officers is underway at the AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami following an immense procession.
Thousands of people have packed the Arena for the memorial to officers Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth who were both killed Thursday while serving a warrant to a suspected killer, 22-year-old Johnny Simms. Simms was killed by another officer.
Family members and close friends were led into the Arena by Roger Castillo’s wife, also a Miami-Dade police officer, and their three sons, ages 9 to 15. Haworth was a single mom with a 13-year old son.
Inside the arena, yellow wrist bands were handed out with the names of Castillo and Haworth and the letters “EOW” and the date January 20, 2011. “EOW” stands for “End of Watch” and Jan. 20th is the day they died in the line of duty.
The flag-draped caskets were escorted into the Arena by the Miami-Dade Police Department Honor Guard around 12:45 p.m. as the bag pipe players marched ahead. Officer Bridget Sanchez of the Miami-Dade Police Department sang a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” accompanied by a harp followed by these words from Chief Fred Mass of the Sunny Isles Police Department.
“Today, there are no colors to differentiate uniforms or agencies or even ranks. For today we stand as one. United to honor two of our police family who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez spoke to the families and others gathered at the memorial.
“Heroes, angels, saints; these are just a few of the words that I have heard describe fallen officers Roger Castillo and Amanda Haworth. They were all of that and more,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez. “They’re bravery in the face of danger is unquestioned, they’re dedication to duty is beyond reproach. They are special, not only because of the way they died, but because of how they lived.”
Mayor Alvarez went on, “So much of what our public officials do go unnoticed. So many acts of bravery go unseen. Tell their story and never forget.”
And the big picture story from CNN:
As police in Florida prepared for the funeral of two Miami-Dade County police officers gunned down in the line of duty, shots rang out Monday in St. Petersburg, on the other side of the state. Two other officers fell dead and a federal marshal was wounded. Follow updates on CNN and affiliate WFTS-TV.
On any given day, such violence against police officers would be disturbing. But the fatalities capped a particularly violent 24 hours in the United States for the men and women in blue. Eleven police officers were shot.
“It is a very disturbing trend for all of us,” said Hal Johnson, general counsel for the Florida Police Benevolent Association. “Florida has never seen a streak like this. I don’t think anybody has.”
It is natural to search for answers, Johnson said, even if there aren’t any. The shootings do not appear to be related, and the motives may never be known. Declaring it to be open season against police officers seems dangerously simplistic, he added.
He sees the shootings more as acts of desperation.
“They are shooting at people they know have guns,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what’s going on out there, but I’ve never seen it like this. I do see the developing of a callousness. It’s almost as if shooting a police officer has lost its shock effect.”
And the list of shootings is getting longer:
– On Sunday, four officers were shot in a Detroit police station by a man who walked in, firing randomly. Lamar Deshea Moore was shot to death by police so his motive may never be known, but local reports say a relative was awaiting sentencing for double murder. Two of the police officers remain hospitalized. For more, read CNN’s update and affiliate reports from the scene: WXYZ-TV, WISH-TV and WDIV-TV.
– Two deputies were shot outside a Walmart in Port Orchard, Washington, near Seattle, on Sunday. Check out CNN, KIRO-TV and KOMO-TV for the latest updates.
– A police officer is in a coma and in critical condition after being shot during a traffic stop early Sunday in Indianapolis. Check out WTHR-TV for updates.
– In Lincoln City, Oregon, a police officer was shot Sunday night during a traffic stop. The officer is in critical condition. Check out affiliate KOIN-TV for more information.
So with all of this going on, and coupled with the Tucson massacre the nation is still recovering from (along with Rep. Gabby Giffords,) why is this the only voice of sanity out there?
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined gun violence victims Monday calling on President Barack Obama to urge tighter controls on firearms during his State of the Union address.
The mayor, a prominent voice in the national debate over guns, said Obama’s speech on Tuesday is a chance to act in the aftermath of this month’s wounding of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killing of six others in Arizona.
“We believe it is an opportunity for our president to make a strong pledge to fix our gun laws and shore up our background check system,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor, flanked by gun violence victims and the son of slain black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, said “loophole-free” checks to prevent criminals and mentally unstable people from purchasing guns were essential.
“Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns — and most of them are purchased or possessed illegally,” Bloomberg said at City Hall, where he was also joined by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
The 34 victims attending the event — their number chosen to mirror the country’s daily toll — echoed Bloomberg.
A mother pleaded for “President Obama to start taking action. We are having a horrible, horrible war of our own here toady. We are here not as victims but as victorious voices to stand up to gun manufacturers.”
And you know what? It won’t happen.
So what is wrong with us as a country?