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Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Sheriff’s hazard

July 11, 2001

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To the editor:

On July 6, at approximately 5:45 p.m., I was traveling north on U.S. Highway 59, just north of Baldwin Junction. For those unfamiliar with U.S. 59 in that area, the highway traverses a number of adjacent, sharply rising hills, with virtually no space to pull over safely.

Approaching the crest of the first hill, I was no less than very shocked to discover that I was facing two Douglas County Sheriff's Department patrol cars, traveling toward me at a high rate of speed in the center of the highway. It is not unusual to encounter law enforcement vehicles responding to emergencies and, if possible, I always pull to the right and stop as the law requires. However, it is a bit more unsettling to find said vehicles more in one's own lane than out of it, and to know that a split second misjudgment by either party could cause a violent collision.

No doubt, these officers were responding to some sort of an emergency, although there was no indication of a pursuit at hand. Doing so in such a reckless manner makes clear that they were driving as they were because, badge in hand, they could do it with immunity. It is virtually impossible that arrival at the scene 10 seconds later, had they been driving with at least a hint of sanity and responsibility, would have altered the outcome of the incident. Instead, they chose to seriously endanger the lives of the occupants of at least four cars, including mine, which were forced off, or nearly off, the road. These gun-toting highway cowboys really need to seek their thrills elsewhere.

I expect a number of "they put their lives on the line" responses to this missive, but my question is: What gives them the right to put MY life on the line? No one required them to take their jobs, and they certainly have no right to threaten my life with their authority-born, arrogant carelessness. If our deputies can behave in this manner, and not be reprimanded, it speaks very poorly not only of their judgment, but of their training and supervision as well.

Dick Walker,

Baldwin

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