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.