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Law enforcement deserves the benefit of the doubt

Posted: June 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.

It took two years for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office to determine an officer was justified in shooting a knife-wielding, hostage-taking man. Two years.

The point?

The next time you see an out-of-context clip of a video on the news (or YouTube) of an officer involved in a critical incident (i.e. a fight, a shooting, an escalating of a violent confrontation of some kind), give yourself a moment to pause, and give the officer the benefit of the doubt.

If it can take experts years to render a determination regarding the propriety of an officer’s actions, have the humility to admit that you, as a civilian, lack the training, experience and objectivity to draw conclusions based on a video clip.

Admittedly, officers don’t always get it right. Those officers who violate department policies or the law should receive whatever the just penalties are for their actions.

However, by and large, the men and women in law enforcement serving our community and others do get it right. They deserve our appreciation, respect and prayers.

As a retired 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, serving the Santa Clarita Valley my entire career, I had to make decisions in a matter of seconds that sometimes took weeks, months, or years for others to sort out.

I always did the best I could with the training, experience and tools I had, and with the character God had given me.

At the end of the day, so long as I got home to my wife and kids, I didn’t worry about being judged by 12. It was always better than being carried by six.

So thank a law enforcement professional — today if the opportunity presents itself. Thank a man or woman behind the badge for his or her service to your community.


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