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Letter to the Editor

Policing's lost moral compass

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To the editor: If you missed Dan O’Neill’s community opinion in last Sunday’s paper go back and read it. O’Neil relates how not one, not two, but three police officers including a sergeant laughed about brutalizing a frail 73-year-old mentally impaired woman in Loveland, Colorado, one year ago. They broke her arm and dislocated her shoulder while arresting her after she forgot to pay for $13 of items at a local Walmart. She offered to pay after being confronted, but the Walmart employees refused the money and called the police. Her family is now suing.

Follow up research found that there were actually five officers involved. In April this year, months after the incident, three were placed on administrative leave after which they resigned. The two former officers who had made the arrest were subsequently arrested and charged May 20, 2021. The master sergeant who was supervising them is now on administrative leave, and a fifth officer is named in the lawsuit.

There is a strong message in O’Neill’s piece. In case you had been thinking that your class, race, age or gender would insulate you from police violence, this incident upends that. When five people who are tasked with protecting citizens can disregard the humanity of those they are sworn to serve, we have a deep societal problem. Clearly, these officers had lost their moral compasses if they ever had them. If you do not find this story horrifying, then your own compass may need recalibrating.

I’m not sure what kind of training is needed to prevent assaults on elders, but I hope our city police and state troopers will take note of the Colorado former officers involved in case they come job hunting here. If those names show up, shred their applications and tell them we will not tolerate that behavior here. And, if any of our officers ever behave like this, don’t wait for a lawsuit ... fire them.

 

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