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Community Comment

Sat., March 28, 2009, 7:15 a.m.

Thousands honor fallen officers in Oakland, CA

Photo Credit: and Justin Sullivan / Getty Images (Justin Sullivan / The Spokesman-Review)
Photo Credit: and Justin Sullivan / Getty Images (Justin Sullivan / The Spokesman-Review)

Good morning, Netizens...

I once lived and owned a business in the ghetto area where four young police officers from the Oakland Police Department died; I know the neighborhood quite well and have long since made my peace with it. Unfortunately, four brave officers died in the course of attempting to make an arrest. Four brothers in blue who, from all that I have seen and heard, were good cops, hard-working police officers who did their level-best to perform their sworn duties. They were fathers, brothers, friends and loved ones to many, but most of the people in Oakland, California never knew their names until yesterday, when a massive memorial was held in Oakland and they were put to rest with all the honor and pomp they so richly deserve.

People came from everywhere, not to mention police departments as far away as the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. They came with a sense of duty and great respect, paid their respects to their fallen comrades, and for a time stood in row upon row. The entire Oakland Police Department was there, as the Alameda County Sheriff's Department stood a watch for them, so that all could attend.

Perhaps one of the best-written articles I have read about how this all came about appears here, in Salon:

Retired OPD Lieutenant Lawrence Eade perhaps said it best when he was quoted by Salon as saying, “I don't have the answers any more than anyone else does. I know that the police make mistakes sometimes, sometimes deadly ones, and sometimes they aren't mistakes. There are bad apples on every force. I know we need effective police oversight and review boards. We should legalize most drugs and stop locking up millions of black men for minor drug offenses, sending them into the Felon Training Schools known as prisons. I know we need better mentoring, better inner-city schools, better after-school programs, a better parole system. Mostly, I know that we need to start the long, hard work of getting rid of the ghettoes that blight our nation, so that screwed-up people like Mixon aren't around to wreak havoc on everyone, black and white -- mostly black. We need a lot of things, and we need them now.

But blaming the police for these problems is like blaming the paramedic for your heart attack. Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai did not die trying to take those things away from anyone. They died trying to protect us. And that means all of us -- black and white and brown and yellow, rich and poor, whether we live in $2 million homes in North Oakland or tenements off East 14th St. Today is a day to honor the memory of these brave men, and resolve to try to make the world a better place for their children. And for the children growing up in the killing fields of East Oakland. And for all of us.”

We live in a sort of a killing field here in Spokane, as many will agree. Our police procedures and policies in Spokane have been a travesty for too many years, and yet there are signs that things may be getting better in the future. Despite a few “bad actors” as one of the news media termed certain police officers in Oakland do not truly understand the nature of public service, the vast majority of cops are attempting to do a good job, fairly, and with total candor and honesty. We only hear about the ones who have erred. Seldom do we hear the names of the officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

So, for a moment this morning in my reverie, I choose to honor four police officers who fell in the line of duty, attempting to arrest a convicted felon on parole in the claptrap ghetto with teeth that breathes and bleeds the souls of everyone who dwells therein, one day at a time.

Gentlemen, I salute you.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.