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April 13, 2010 at 4:00 PM

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Lakewood officers' families and $182 million lawsuit

Posted by Letters editor

Officers’ families wanted to change the system

I am ashamed of the people of Western Washington for their outpour of anger toward the families of the victims of the Lakewood shootings. I am amazed at how quickly the tide turns. [“Slain officers’ families right to drop claims,” Opinion, April 12.]

What I do not understand is why everyone is so angry. What if it had been a roomful of schoolchildren who were gunned down in cold blood in that coffee shop and it was later learned that there was evidence that the perpetrator had made several threats about shooting children? Would everyone be as angry at the parents of those children if they sued?

Why don’t the families of those police officers deserve the same right? We all walked away from that funeral with a sense of closure. Those officers are still dead, and their children still do not have their parents and will not for the rest of their lives.

Why? Because it is too expensive to pay someone to actually do the job that he or she should already be doing —making sure the person who is about to be released for good behavior (after assaulting a police officer) is actually safe to release back into society.

The Seattle Times editorial staff says it was a good thing for the families to drop their lawsuits and that we should all be angry at Maurice Clemmons and his family for what happened. Obviously, Clemmons is responsible for his actions and should be held accountable. But do we really think Clemmons’ family has more responsibility for ensuring that he does not do something violent than the people we pay to ensure that violent people stay in jail?

I have worked for one form of government or another throughout my life and I can tell you that the only thing that most governments understand is money. They do not change anything until it is too painful to maintain the status quo. The only way, often, to get anyone in a bureaucracy to change the rules or even admit that there is a problem, is to hit where it hurts —in the pocketbook.

I believe the families when they say it is all about changing the system. Our system screwed up and it will continue to screw up until someone forces it to do something about it. Shame on you all for attacking the victims in this.

— Isabel Cole, Federal Way

Three strikes for you too, Seattle

When I read that the wives and sister of the slain officers had filed a lawsuit against Pierce County, I groaned —not another one. [“Cop’s widow: ‘We don’t want this ugliness,’.” page one, April 10.]

Instead of holding those responsible, we turn to suing those who have the money, or rather those we think have the money. It has become second nature to us, but I could not blame the family, especially after reading the newest story on their reasons for filing a lawsuit.

I am glad I did not jump on the bandwagon, where an untold number of people called or wrote of their disdain at these families. My first thought at these people: Shame on you.

The women are not to blame; they are too new in their grief to have thought this through and probably got bad advice.

Do we then point fingers at the lawyers who gave the bad advice, the Pierce County Jail, the employees responsible for monitoring the calls or the politicians for taking the “three strikes, you’re out” law so far off course that the jails are now filled with people the law was not made for.

I ask all those who are angry and looking to blame someone else to take a look in the mirror and ask what you really are angry about. I bet you find your own finger pointing is pointing at you —I know I did.

— Kendall Rooney, Federal Way

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