Our system of justice in this nation has been designed, at least in principle, to ensure that all people are innocent until proven guilty of a crime by a jury of their peers. The job of police officers is to arrest people when they are suspected of committing crimes, gather the evidence of those alleged crimes, and turn that information over to prosecutors to pursue justice as prescribed by law. If in the course of performing their duties police officers have the need to defend their lives, or those of innocent bystanders, with deadly force their actions should generally be considered as necessary. When our elected leaders, or those assigned the significant responsibility of protecting the public from crimes, assert that the preemptive execution of suspects is the preferred method of upholding the laws of a civil society those officials need to be expunged from their role as leaders or officers of our society.
The principle of “shoot first so that no questions need be asked” puts the very core of our system of justice in jeopardy. Such an attitude places the lives of both suspects and police in mortal jeopardy. There is nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing to lose.
Last week, following the shooting in Anaheim of K-9 officer Bruno and death of the suspect who shot him, one of the City of Anaheim’s most senior elected officials commented on a local Anaheim online message board about the incident. That official was current city council member, and mayoral candidate, Lucille Kring. She wrote:
“Bruno is a true hero as are all the canine police officers. And the shooting saved us a trial. Always a good outcome.”
Upon assuming her duties as an elected official in Anaheim, Ms. Kring took an oath swearing “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.” Her comment demonstrates a willing failure to uphold the core principle of her oath.
To be fair Ms. Kring, after being publicly chastised for her comment both on the forum where it was written and in the media, issued an apology for her comment.
“This morning I made a careless and insensitive statement in an on-line newsgroup that does not reflect my values. The loss of a human life is always a tragedy. He was someone’s son, maybe an uncle, brother, father. I apologize unreservedly for my statement and I hope you will forgive me.”
The problem with her apology is that she does not retract her sentiment, just that she made her statement carelessly and without sensitivity. It is not unreasonable to consider the careless comments of an elected public official to be more representative of their actual viewpoint than prepared and carefully crafted remarks. Councilwoman Kring’s opened a window into her soul; revealing for all to see what she really thinks and believes. Kring is a veteran politician, not some new kid on the political block. She knows, better than most, that walking back such a statement is not as easy as a simple apology. In politics, there are no backsies.
But in the context of politics, Councilwoman Kring has another problem. She has chosen to challenge the current Mayor Tom Tait for the most senior position of leadership in the city. She holds herself out to the public as a better leader for the city. Viewed through the lens of her comments, rather than the rose-colored lens of a polished political persona, Lucille Kring is unfit for not only the office she seeks, but the one she currently holds.
It has been said elsewhere, and deserves repeating here;
Lucille Kring should abandon her campaign for mayor and resign her current city council position and the responsibility for upholding her oath of office. Such an act on her part would save the people of Anaheim the cost of a political trial, in the form of a recall.