EDITOR: In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Andy Lopez, much attention has rightly been paid to the need for impartial reviews of such incidents. The sheer volume — 26 civilian deaths since 2000 — is egregious for a community such as ours. Meaningful changes in police departments themselves can dramatically reduce this number.
In the early 2000s, crime-plagued Miami had a reputation for police shootings (actually a rate similar to ours). With the help of a progressive police commissioner who brought new training and enforced a policy severely restricting the use of deadly force, Miami went 20 months without a shot being fired. And there were only two civilian deaths in the subsequent four years.
New York had similar results in the mid-1980s, going from 90 shooting deaths in one year to 12 the next, all without compromising officer safety.
These types of changes must come from the top, and if our chiefs of police and the Sonoma County sheriff cannot make them, we need to find officials who will.
No matter how you look at the tragedy on Moorland Avenue, something went horribly wrong for the boy, for his family, for our community and for those deputies. We all deserve better.
The real culprit
EDITOR: I think all this outrage against the deputy sheriff who shot Andy Lopez is misplaced. Stop, take a deep breath and think. Look at all the violent computer games. Look at all the violent movies where the story line is how many people can be injured or killed. Look at the violence on TV. This doesn't include the language commonly used.
Kids see violence on a steady basis and then toy manufacturers make guns to look as real as possible. Throw in the mix the misguided (PC word) who go on shooting rampages. Why wouldn't any police officer, after the last year or two, feel a need to stop a rampage from happening if a person doesn't react to an order promptly? Deputy Erick Gelhaus had a second or two to decide if this was a real threat. He is just as much a victim as Andy, and he has to live with it for decades.
Kids today see violence dished out as entertainment too much. Why don't parents guide their children into activities such as sports, hiking, etc. and curtail the video violent games? Maybe it's because many parents are playing these games also.
Reform pensions first
EDITOR: As an interim solution, Rohnert Park's Measure E was acceptable. While Measure A has oh-so-quietly appeared on a barren ballot with no other issues in sight, it appears the public, in its apathy, will allow a temporary tax to become permanent.
This same public will have to pay for the election and even campaign costs to pass Measure A (just check who paid for the yes on A mailing).
It would seem to me as a former civil service employee that a reasonable retirement system would handle the financial issues at local and state levels. Please note that the federal civil service retirement system has been eliminated and replaced by FERS, which uses Social Security as a base. The old system was based upon a top retirement figure of 80 percent of your high three years of earnings after 42 years of service. Personnel in higher danger positions paid additional retirement deductions and were eligible after approximately 33 years of service.