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Coming to Your Town

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The U.S. is having difficulty recruiting. Police departments are hiring and training, but they are not inundated with qualified applicants. The Department of Defense is also hiring but is falling short of its recruiting goals. Law enforcement and military need high-quality individuals who are willing to run toward the sound of gunfire and danger; these aren’t jobs for just anyone.

We who carry learn to back carefully away whenever possible and to safeguard our families and our own lives. We are not paid to solve crimes, much less step into the middle of a gunfight. I’m not sure this strategy is going to last, however.

On Saturday morning, September 29, two police officers were murdered by a gang member in the small town of Brookhaven, Mississippi (population 12,520). Corporal Zach Moak and Patrolman James White were shot to death after they responded to a “shots fired” report at 5:00 a.m. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said there was an exchange of gunfire between the officers and one Marquis Aaron Flowers, 25, who was wounded in the firefight. The officers, wearing vests and cameras, died alone and in the dark — no last words; no chance to kiss their loved ones goodbye. Flowers, who has previously been convicted of burglary and has a history of leading officers on high-speed chases, is still alive.

Officers James White and Zach Moak

Patrolman James White, 35 (left), and Corporal Zach Moak, 31 (right). (Photo courtesy of Mississippi Department of Public Safety)

Calling the two officers heroes, the Brookhaven police chief said that in his — and Corporal Moak’s and Patrolman White’s — line of work, “You never know when it’s your last day.”

Not only is law enforcement a difficult and very dangerous job, even in the smallest of America’s towns, but the actions and decisions of sworn officers have become so highly scrutinized and politicized that it’s a wonder anyone in his or her right mind wants a uniform.

Here’s another recent example: Herman Bell has been released on parole from Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill, New York. The judge, Richard Koweek, who describes himself as “sensitive and caring” but also “firm and forthright,” accepted Bell’s attorney’s argument that the murderer “was a changed man.”

But Bell was not some unsupervised 12-year-old who wanted to play cops-and-robbers and who made a giant mistake. He’s a cold-blooded killer who represents the vilest layer of American society.

In the spring of 1971, Bell made a phony 911 call and then shot NYPD officer Joseph Piagentini 22 times in the back while the officer begged for his life. Another responding officer, Waverly M. Jones, died instantly in the ambush. On the run, Bell joined an assassination squad in San Francisco and murdered another cop there.

“I have so changed, that you would want me to be your neighbor, you would want me to be your friend,” Bell, now 70, told Governor Cuomo’s New York parole board. “I was impressionable. I was young. I was angry and full of aggressive energy. The person I was then, if that person was to come into this room, during this interview, I couldn’t recognize that person.”

If I may say this in print, “What a bunch of crap.”

These are the reasons many police departments are understaffed and why you must carry and remain trained. You need to carry — now and every day — until Nancy Pelosi telephones Herman Bell and invites him to live in her neighborhood.

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