The fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a Cincinnati officer during a traffic stop. Using pepper spray against crowds upset by the RTA police arrest of a 14-year-old. The conviction of a Los Angeles officer who assaulted a handcuffed woman in her custody.
It is not difficult in our nation of 320 million to find examples of police misconduct. The Cato Institute, a public policy research organization, tracked developments in 10 such cases in the three-day period from July 25 to 27 alone, including a New York officer charged with having oral sex with minors, a Minnesota state trooper who pleaded guilty to driving 94 mph in a 55 mph zone, and a Louisiana police chief who stole and sold department firearms.
It is sometimes easy to lose sight of the good work done by most of our law enforcement officers.
Here are some examples to keep in mind:
• Oberlin police were the first in Lorain County to adopt personal body cameras, a move rooted in honesty and transparency. Wellington police followed shortly after.
• Wellington chief Tim Barfield has now led multiple self-defense classes for women.
• We spotted Amherst Sgt. Jacob Perez out on bike patrol recently, zipping around the city’s downtown faster than any cruiser could navigate traffic.
• When Oberlin College students took to the streets in protest several times this past year, Oberlin police carried on as usual, refusing to overreact like officers in other jurisdictions.
• Wellington officers got special training in use of batons from Barfield, who told us police must rely on non-lethal solutions to problems.
• Amherst Sgt. Troy Donaldson has written plenty of tickets during his career, but our favorite was the citation he penned to young Karina Ballesteros, who was rewarded with a new bike after he spotted her properly wearing a helmet.
• Putting a friendly foot forward is the idea of National Night Out. Oberlin police take part each summer by hosting a party for the community so residents can get to know officers as people rather than badges.
• Ptl. Edmund Smith died May 4, 1957, while responding to a domestic disturbance in Wellington. For the first time — at least in memory — the WPD took up watch at his memorial in front of town hall on the 58th anniversary of his death.
• Police across Lorain County were honored earlier this year for helping to save lives by piloting the use of naloxone by law enforcement to fight heroin overdoses. The drug saved 63 lives from October 2013 to October 2014.
• Amherst police this past year rode school buses to crack down on drivers who endanger children’s lives by ignoring bus stop signs.
• Safety Town runs in all three communities to help kids make better decisions that prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries.
• Oberlin police held “Breakfast with a Cop” monthly this past year to give the public chances to talk with officers about concerns.
• Barfield made a huge effort to get Wellington officers out of their cruisers and on foot, where they could be more accessible to the public.
• Seat belt safety became a big priority for Amherst police, who worked with elementary school children this past year to craft a new safety slogan.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it certainly is an impressive one. Hats off to our local police.
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