Central Florida once again grieves the loss of two law enforcement officers.
Thousands attended the funerals held at First Baptist Church of Orlando for Kissimmee Sergeant Richard “Sam” Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter after they were killed by a gunman while helping to protect a citizen.
Once again, the issue of the death penalty has become a hot topic ever since the sitting State Attorney in the ninth judicial circuit announced she would not seek capital punishment on anyone for any crime in her circuit during her administration.
The killing of a law enforcement officer certainly fits the description under the law of a heinous crime that is worthy of the death penalty. As a result, the next day, Governor Rick Scott removed the two cases via Executive Order 17-222. The order reassigned the case of the accused, Everette Glenn Miller, from State Attorney Aramis Ayala to State Attorney Brad King. Governor Scott said, “Last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state. In Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence and those who attack our law enforcement. Today, I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “Two Florida police officers were brutally murdered and the victims’ families deserve a prosecutor who is willing to consider all sentences, including the death penalty – that is why the Governor and I agree the investigation and prosecution of this case must be reassigned.”
This is sad because we have the first black woman as State Attorney in the state of Florida and we are seeing injustice come in the form of blatant neglect of duty and rebellion by an elected official who is sworn to uphold the law.
On the other hand, what I hear from some in the community, is that we are undoubtedly seeing excessive force cases from around the country where some in law enforcement have abused their authority.
There is a disconnect there because in no way should justification for the actions of some recoil unfavorably for those who are good officers. In addition, the outcry from the black community after two black law enforcement officers have been killed has been awfully quiet and that is wrong.
These officers were black and they were good cops and there is no reason why we should be waging war on an entire community.
If we are guilty of being silent when good cops are killed we are just as guilty as the cops that are silent when they witness other officers use excessive force against us.
See, just as there are more good people in this world than bad, there are more good cops than bad cops. Matthew Baxter’s Grandfather spoke at the funeral of the officers acknowledging there have been some problems with law enforcement and said we have a tendency to paint all law enforcement officers with a broad brush, however, he said, there are good cops out there.
It is important that while we are fighting to change the actions of the bad officers that we don’t neglect the good ones in the midst. Leaving those who truly serve and protect us behind is just as extreme as rebelling against the law because we are angry about the actions of some officers. As we wait for the Supreme Court’s decision and possible the suspension of Ayala for misfeasance or malfeasance, we must be careful not to respond as those who are extremist in their rebellion to what’s already the law.
If “we” are to change the laws that we don’t like, it must be done fairly and properly or we will have to sit quietly by when an elected official challenges us to something that is just as extreme.