To the Editor:
In the Herald of May 12, the tragic gunning down of another Killeen police officer in the course of carrying out his duties is coldly reported on the front page, while the editorial page declares the death penalty is, among other things, immoral.
Centuries ago, civilization decided that each member of the community should not be responsible for law enforcement — obligated to join the “hew and cry” — and paid agents were enlisted to carry out that duty, a system that has morphed into the police system as we know it today.
Police officers and other first responders, never paid to adequately compensate for the level of personal risk assumed, are looked to by the community for protection of life and property. The community is quick to criticize when glitches in that system occasionally occur, but seldom look to honor those who are performing this critical function as expected.
With each loss of a police officer, or any first responder, we are greatly diminished as a community.
Sadly, there are abscesses within our community that threaten safety and well-being, and we look to the police to investigate and operate within the stringent requirements of the criminal justice system, i.e., follow the rules, to cope with them.
Unfortunately, the criminals huddling in the darkness of those abscesses do not “follow the rules,” and the result is one dead police officer and others wounded while trying to meet their oath of office. That, I submit, is what is truly immoral.
No, the death penalty, nor even the threat of fine or jail, seldom acts as a deterrent to the criminal element. Offenders generally don’t think three minutes ahead of their next activity, and their remorse later is that they were caught, not that they did the crime. But, even absent a deterrent effect, there is a right of a society to protect itself against certain criminals who are predisposed to follow a criminal career and whose crimes are so heinous that the threat of their possibly being loose again constitutes an on-going, imminent threat. The cold-blooded murder of a police officer is one such offense that justifies taking the life of the offender ... after all, his constitutional rights are protected, unlike those of his or her victim.