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April 12, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Families of slain Lakewood officers file lawsuit, then back down

Posted by Letters editor

Public opinion aside, Pierce County responsible for deaths

Editor, The Times:

Pierce County not only failed the police —it is still failing the public. [“Families: County failed officers,” page one, April 9.]

While the “Clemmons’ vendetta” with the police is an egregious example. Here’s why:

1. Clemmons’ had a ’ history of violence: burglaries, robbing an Arkansas police officer.

2. Psychiatric reports in Arkansas and Washington.

3. Recorded phone messages of seeking revenge against police.

With all of that, along with recent child rape and assault charges, Clemmons managed to get out with just an ankle bracelet.

Did Pierce County think it could monitor Clemmons cheaply? Or was it just following policy and procedure for a man with a history of violent robberies and who was suspected of raping a child?

There is a bigger problem to address, and Clemmons is just the tip of the iceberg. I only perceive this “negligence of institutes” getting worse with overcrowded jails, more violent crime, shorter jail time and budget cuts, especially with a 17 percent federal unemployment rate.

I do not think taxpayers just want red flags on criminals who might attack or have a vendetta with police, but for all victims and concerns of public safety in general. There is no question that having four innocent police officers slaughtered in a coffee house on a Sunday should be overlooked or swept under the carpet as if it were merely an oversight in an overwhelmed criminal processing system.

— Anita Dirini, Bothell

Apology owed to officers’ families

Members of the community and Pierce County Sheriff’s Spokesman Ed Troyer owe an apology to the families of the Lakewood police officers killed by Maurice Clemmons.

In their attempt to call attention to the possibility of preventing violence, the families have been called “greedy” and accused of bringing a “meritless” lawsuit against Pierce County. They have not only backed down, but their lawyer has publicly apologized for the monetary amount recorded in the suit.

Clemmons made threats and then carried them out. Four police officers lost their lives, and Clemmons was shot and killed.

It is outrageous to assume greed is behind every lawsuit brought against a county or any entity lax in its practices. The legal system exists as a remedy to protect individuals and the public. This lawsuit is a mechanism for change —one that should not be compromised by listening to negative public officials or a few ill-thinking individuals. I encourage the families as well as their legal counsel to pursue this case on its merits.

— Marcia Adams-Landry, Bainbridge Island

Dropping lawsuit helps taxpayers

The vicious murders of four Lakewood police officers was a tragedy for all Puget Sound area residents. That this senseless crime could have been prevented with greater resources is obvious.

All elements of our community’s critical infrastructure are suffering from the economic downturn and limited tax dollars —not just crime prevention. If we had the money, we could do much better in many areas.

A lawsuit brought by the slain officers’ families against Pierce County taxpayers, if successful, would only worsen our economic woes and inhibit our ability to fund needed improvements to prevent this tragedy from happening again. Sadly, this lawsuit is about greed, not about justice or the protection of our police officers.

— Dave Gamrath, Seattle

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