• Sending the wrong message
    June 11,2014

    When did it become OK to assault the police?

    The Times Argus reported that, on May 30, Jennifer Berube was acquitted of charges stemming from her attack on a Rutland police officer. Ms. Berube is seen on surveillance video, while being held at a police station, sneaking up behind Officer Nguyen, reaching around his neck, while holding a knife. A violent struggle ensued, and while Officer Nguyen fought to protect his life, he was cut on the neck. Despite the very clear evidence, Ms. Berube was acquitted by a jury of her peers.

    Some may say the jury was not convinced of intent to kill. The technical legal analysis distracts from the more significant concern: A woman clearly attacked a police officer and injured him, and there were no consequences. We ask our police officers to patrol in the dark hours of the night, expecting them to protect us while we sleep. Police officers take on this challenge, and in 2013, 105 officers were killed in the line of duty in the United States. Officer Nguyen was attacked by Ms. Berube, and what was society’s response? The acquittal sent the message loud and clear: Attacking a police officer is no big deal.

    How can we expect police officers to protect and serve us when we as a society refuse to protect and serve them? Police officers are often seen as simply being representatives of the state, devoid of feelings. However, all police officers have families that they want to go home to. They have concerns and fears just like the rest of us. Just because police officers are brave enough to face dangerous situations does not mean they deserve to get attacked. Acquitting Ms. Berube sets a dangerous precedent, and society must send the message that attacking the police will not be tolerated.

    Burke Brownfeld

    Alexandria, Virginia

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