DENIS LAW: Shooting reminds how important officers really are

For the second time this month, I have had the flags on city facilities lowered to half-staff in honor of four more police officers who were slain in the line of duty. Hopefully this is the last time.

This entire state is mourning over the senseless execution of five police officers in two separate ambushes in recent weeks. There was relief and even a moment of jubilation when the news broke Tuesday morning that Maurice Clemmons had been killed by a Seattle Police officer, but the shock of these execution-style killings continues.

Police agencies throughout the region have done a masterful job of working together to apprehend Clemmons before more people were killed. And we’re especially happy that no other officers were victimized by this killer who was armed with a gun taken from one of his victims in Lakewood.

The excitement over the capture of Clemmons will soon revert back to the sorrow surrounding the deaths of these officers in Pierce County. Nine children have lost a father or mother. Families and friends are just beginning to realize that their loved one will never return home.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the Lakewood police officers and other city employees who have lost four of their friends and colleagues. If this had happened in Renton, I can’t begin to imagine how we would cope with losing four of our officers to a cold-blooded killer who had no business being out of jail in the first place.

The public and police officers throughout the nation have reason to be outraged against a criminal justice system that is indirectly responsible for the deaths of these officers. Clemmons has been preying on society since he was a teenager, amassing enough felony convictions to keep him in prison for the rest of his life. We can thank former Governor Mike Huckabee for taking it upon himself to decide that Clemmons, serving a 95-year sentence for a multitude of violent crimes in Arkansas, was rehabilitated and deserved another chance. And questions need to be answered as to why this career criminal could post a low bail to gain his freedom while being held on child rape charges and facing at least seven other felony charges in Pierce County, including assaulting police officers this past May.

The impact of these recent tragedies will linger for some time. And it’s important for us to understand the fear that now exists with the wives, husbands and children of our police officers as they leave for work each day, knowing the dangers they face while trying to protect others.

One of our residents wrote me that we need to let all of our officers know that we appreciate their efforts to protect us. I agree, and there has never been a better time.

Our world would be less dependable and our lives less tranquil if these brave men and women weren’t there when we called. They are willing to put their lives on the line and wear the uniforms that make them targets just to protect us. Saying thank you hardly seems adequate, but it is worth saying and worth remembering.

Denis Law

Mayor, City of Renton

Mayor Denis Law can be reached at dlaw@rentonwa.gov.


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