Thursday, February 07, 2008

An Unfortunate First

This morning, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT team was shot and killed while responding to a hostage crisis -- the first Los Angeles SWAT officer to die in the line of duty in the team's 41-year history. Officer Randy Simmons, 51, was shot in the neck by a man who had just murdered his father and two older brothers in a house in the 19800 block of Welby Way in Winnetka, just west of Reseda. The shooter, a gang member with a criminal record and a history of mental problems, was himself later shot in the head by a police sniper. Another SWAT officer, James Veenstra, also 51, is in critical condition after taking gunshot wounds to the face and jaw, but is expected to live.

I was born and raised in these suburbs, and in the 25 years I lived there before moving to Idaho more than a dozen years ago, I watched them, and all of Los Angeles, deteriorate steadily under entrenched liberal leadership. During that time -- and especially since the Rodney King riots in 1992 -- it is the Los Angeles Police Department, and not the establishment liberals at City Hall, that has been taking it on the chin for everything that has gone wrong in that city. Whenever cops use any kind of force in the line of duty, however justified, both they and the Department are going to be descended upon by a swarm of drive-by media types, idiot actors, race hustlers, leftist lawyers, and even the very officials who are supposed to be backing them up. Commissions are going to be convened; lawsuits are going to be filed; and pretty soon, the Department is going to be buried under a fresh avalanche of stupid rules and regulations, saddled with new oversight committees, and smothered in new layers of bureaucracy. The cops are treated like criminals, and the criminals are treated like saints; then everybody wonders how the criminals dare to ply their trades so flagrantly and so fearlessly.

The LAPD gets so much bad press that everybody takes it for granted they're just a bunch of Brownshirts. It is a wonder, in such a climate, that anyone should be willing to go out and take on the dangerous job of beating back the assault of crime and street thuggery. Yet despite all the flak they take day in and day out, guys like Officers Simmons and Veenstra still get up, go to work, put on their uniforms, and go out and put their lives on the line every day. And some days, like today, they lose their lives.

Officer Simmons leaves behind a wife and two children; Officer Veenstra is also a family man. Pray for these brave men and their families.

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