by Brian Mahany
Just a few days ago I was in the Superior Court of Santa Cruz, California. After court and on my way to the airport, I stopped to meet my good friend Evy Brown, executive director and publisher of whistlewatch.org, a leading whistleblower advocacy group. A few minutes ago, Evy told me that two Santa Cruz police officers were gunned down and killed in broad daylight, just a few blocks from where we met.
The suspect was later killed in a hail of gunfire after being cornered by other officers and trying to shoot his way to freedom.
These stories sadden me. Although a lawyer for 30 years, I spent several years as a police officer in New Orleans, New Jersey and Maine. Unfortunately in my brief law enforcement career, I already know two fine officers who lost their life in the line of duty, both instances involving domestics. (Early reports say the suspect in the Santa Cruz incident was involved in either a domestic or sex crime immediately preceding the killing of both officers.)
Many people do not like cops and sometimes for very valid reasons. Yet when a cop is killed trying to protect us, all of society suffers.
As an attorney, much of my practice involves fighting fraud. We often deal with sophisticated adversaries; adversaries who leave their victims destitute and who have robbed people of their life savings. As bad as these fraudsters are, there is little physical danger that comes with practicing law. Cops, however, are at risk every time they pin on their badge and report for duty.
I pray that not just the lawyers, cops, prosecutors and judges of our great nation ban together to make this a better and safer place but that society also shows its support for law enforcement. Domestic violence, white collar crime, corporate greed and gun violence are not going to be solved overnight nor are they subject to simple quick fixes.
I have no answers today, just sadness and prayers to the women and men of the Santa Cruz Police Department and the families of Sgt. Loran Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler. A big piece of Santa Cruz and of our civilized society died yesterday.