Those preaching hatred of government are making police the most visible targets, Spokane County Sheriff John Goldman said Saturday at an observance for slain officers.
The sheriff called for an “end to the hatred and divisiveness which threatens to destroy our nation.”
“All too often, that hatred is blindly aimed at government,” Goldman said, later making reference to last month’s bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
As the most visible arm of government, peace officers are often the target of the hatred, Goldman said. They must be eternally vigilant, he said.
“Today the enemy may be parked outside your office, or seated in the car next to you at the traffic light,” Goldman said.
“Attacks on law officers have been advocated by gang members as a condition of initiation and by selfstyled patriots who preach a dialogue of hatred,” he said.
Goldman spoke to about 50 people gathered for the annual Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Service, on the plaza between the county courthouse and Public Safety Building.
There, etched on a marble monument, are the names of every city, county, state and federal law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Washington.
The newest names to be added are Snohomish County Sheriff’s Sgt. James Kinard and Seattle Police Detective Antonio Terry. Both were fatally shot in separate incidents last year.
The slain Seattle detective has relatives who live in Spokane who attended the service.
Even though “the horrors of the Oklahoma City bombing are still fresh in our minds, we must recognize that the loss of these officers lives is a national tragedy, as well,” Goldman said.
The Democratic sheriff, who took office in January, criticized verbal attacks on law enforcement, often reported in the media.
“Despite attacks on the law enforcement profession by the defense team in the O.J. Simpson trial, most Americans honor, respect and support” police, Goldman said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a strong expression of that appreciation from citizens of this community.”
Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, echoed that thought in his brief comments.
“Most people in America have the greatest respect for what you do,” Nethercutt told officers in the audience.