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<b>Do no harm</b>

EDITOR: Among the explanations verging on excuses offered by law enforcement for the killing of an innocent child by a Sonoma County deputy, the one that rings out is that the deputies feared for their lives. Really?

We give a person a job as a peace officer, arm him with a gun and then authorize him to shoot simply because he is fearful?

This newspaper reported that police only have three-quarters of a second to decide whether to use deadly force ("Law officers trained to take out threat," Saturday). That isn't enough time to think, never mind to ask a question. So our public policy appears to endorse shooting first and asking questions later.

We are not at war in Sonoma County; we do not have martial law. We need our law enforcement officers to keep the peace, not disturb it. Law enforcement officers should consider the ethics taught to the healing professions: first, do no harm.

MICHAEL MORRIS

Santa Rosa

<b>Protest buses</b>

EDITOR: Upon returning from a week's vacation I was faced with past Press Democrat editions containing articles regarding the untimely death of Andy Lopez. A couple things stood out for me, one being I wasn't there and neither were you, so all the rampant speculation as to what happened is disconcerting.

Another issue is the use of school buses to transport protesters. Who authorized the use of taxpayer dollars for the use of the buses? Is protesting a part of curriculum now?

My sympathies go out to the Lopez family, but there seems to be a lack of respect for the dangers faced by law enforcement every day. I wonder if Lopez had been carrying a real gun, and not a facsimile, and an officer was shot, would there be protesters bused into the neighborhood?

BRIAN BOSTROM

Santa Rosa

<b>Unwelcome neighbor</b>

EDITOR: Some say the casino coming to Rohnert Park will bring jobs and prosperity. I'm afraid all it will bring is crime, drunken drivers, the exhaustion of our water supply and overuse of our police. If I had known we'd be getting a casino, I would never have bought a house here. The purpose of the casino is to make its owners rich and its patrons poor. The concerns of local residents don't seem to matter. We could use more businesses here in Rohnert Park, but not this one.

LINDA JOHNSEN

Rohnert Park

<b>Mayor's integrity</b>

EDITOR: Sonoma Mayor Ken Brown deserves better than ad hominem reactions to his vote against a leaf blower ban ("Mayor changes vote, kills blower ban," Wednesday). With both sides making compelling appeals, Brown's reversal is understandable. Remarks impugning his integrity reflect shame only on those making them.

Of forms of government, Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst — except for all the others," underscoring the difficulty of deciding not between competing interests but between meritorious needs, values, concerns and rights in conflict. These hard choices are made in the community so local leaders can make a difference. The best listen to constituents and then, most attentively of all, to conscience. Over 20 years, I've never known Brown to do otherwise.

I support transitioning high-impact gardening equipment to environmentally sound alternative power sources and decibel levels. Brown's record says he'll help make that happen without crippling small businesses. This evolution is good for everyone, and purveyors of all sizes should make the transition. Deferring a ban gives them time to do so.

Brown's leadership embodies democracy's highest aspirations for local government. His unique body of service is now ineluctably woven into the character of this special place. I, for one, am grateful for that.

DAVID HINKLEY

Sonoma

<b>Answers needed</b>

EDITOR: That Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old boy, died, is an immense tragedy. That he was killed by gunshots fired by a deputy sheriff makes his death a more painful loss. Andy's death is a devastating loss for his parents, family, friends and classmates; his death is, I believe, painful, too, for the deputy who shot Andy, and for the deputy's family.

Many questions need to be answered. The answers to these questions will give us the truth of what happened on that sunny fall afternoon in southwest Santa Rosa.

Knowing the truth, or enough of it, can help us move forward with our recovery. The truth can help us, including parents and police, learn from the tragedy of Andy's death. All caring people want to prevent such an awful incident from happening again.

Let's be responsible and vigilant. Let's keep a watchful eye on the investigations and an open mind. Let's act responsibly and with care toward one another while we get the answers. Protests and a passionate demand for the truth — yes; violence, or the threat of it, absolutely not.

BRUCE STERN

Sonoma