<b>Manslaughter at issue</b>
EDITOR: Chris Smith's column suggesting that Andy Lopez's death was either murder or a tragic accident was appalling misleading ("Death of Andy Lopez likely a mistake, not a murder," Sunday). Except for a few on the fringe, most people understand that the issue here is really whether Lopez's death was manslaughter or an accident.
The deputy sheriff in question clearly never intended to kill a child. The issue is whether he acted reasonably under the circumstances — an open question.
Contrary to Russ Davidson's letter ("Without gear," Sunday), the issue of militarization of the police is not really about weapons and vehicles but about mentality and attitude. The police have adopted a military mentality of us (i.e., the police) versus the enemy (i.e., the public), instead of viewing the proper police role as public servants.
The issue here is whether the deputy who shot Andy Lopez had this mentality and acted on it instead of a rational evaluation of the facts as seen by a reasonable police officer. The deputy's past suggests a military attitude, but let us not rush to judgment.
However, we all need to speak up against this militarization-of-police attitude. It is a great danger.
EDITOR: Beginning back in July, Supervisor Efren Carrillo's behavior on the night of his arrest was attributed to his serious drinking problem. The implication is that he was intoxicated that night.
While not justifying his behavior, this explanation suggests that a sober Carrillo would never have behaved as he did that night. This assumption was supported by his immediate entry into a treatment program.
If, however, Carrillo was not intoxicated that night, his behavior takes on a very different hue. In all of the information I have read concerning his arrest, I have yet to see any information about his blood-alcohol level at the time of his arrest.
EDITOR: The opening of the Student Center at Sonoma State University was promoted with great fanfare. Yet this was actually a partial opening in that much of the building is still being finished. "Overall I just feel like this Student Center was a huge waste of money, and a complete lie to the students of Sonoma State," wrote SSU senior David Wells in a comment posted under The Press Democrat's news story.
Students for the next 30 years will pay $300 extra per year in fees to cover construction costs and interest on the center. The cost of the grand opening is as yet unknown, but two unnecessary items have been identified.
Sonoma State University Entrepreneurial Activities spent $1,030 on a one-time-use 400-square foot-banner to promote the opening. It also purchased an event timer to display as a large count-down digital clock that announced the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the Student Union opening. The event timer cost $689. The event timer may actually be useable in the future on campus, but modifications to the wording would be required. Perhaps SSU can do a days, hours, minutes and seconds countdown for the retirement of top wasteful administrative officials.
<b>Fairness for all</b>
EDITOR: It seems that many are clamoring for a citizen review board. If a board is eventually established, what would be the scope of its duties? Would it just look into officer-involved shootings? Or would it broaden into hearings regarding complaints of officers being rude, driving infractions or off-duty conduct?