Federal jury’s decision vindicates city, officers

Barring an appeal, a federal jury’s decision last week exonerating three Homer police officers in the March 1, 2006, Homer Airport shooting brings closure to the seven-year-old case for the city and police department.

At the time of the incident all kinds of questions swirled about the community. Questions about timing since the airport was filled with singers from the community headed to Italy. Questions about why the operation was not called off because children were in the car with the suspect, a felon wanted on drug and other charges. Questions about how a child was severely injured.

The jury’s ruling not only vindicates the officers, but it also puts those questions to rest. It reinforces what the city believed all along and that’s “that the officers involved acted in a professional, reasonable and responsible manner given the circumstances surrounding this incident,” said City Manager Walt Wrede.

The jury’s decision doesn’t make what happened less a tragedy for the family of the 2-year-old boy who suffered debilitating injuries and now requires 24-hour nursing care, but it’s clear that the boy’s father and not Homer police officers were responsible for the gunshot to the boy’s head. In fact, it’s likely one officer’s bullet may have saved the young daughter of the suspect

As much as anything, this case is an opportunity to remember what a tough job those in law enforcement have. There’s really no such thing as “routine” in their day. They always have to be on guard so a domestic violence call doesn’t turn into something deadly, that a traffic stop won’t become something that puts others in harm’s way.

Their job is one most of us would be unwilling to tackle. While they always have to be prepared for the worst, we suspect their motives are the best: to save and protect lives.

The jury’s ruling provides an opportunity to thank those who put their lives on the line for the rest of us. Thankfully, most of us will never have to face an armed suspect or make the kind of life-changing decisions that face police officers and Alaska State Troopers regularly. Thank you for your work; we really don’t want to walk a mile in your shoes.

Let’s end time changes

Forgive the rant, but it’s time, way past time, to end daylight saving time. Let’s quit springing forward and falling back and messing with our internal clocks. While there may have been good reasons to institute the time change years ago, it’s a new century — with new technology. Times have changed; we don’t need to change the clocks every six months. The move no longer saves energy as it was designed to do.

It’s about more than losing an hour of sleep this past weekend. Science, yes, science shows, the time change hurts our health. Here’s what the research reveals: heart attacks are more prevalent the week after we spring forward; there are more fatal traffic accidents on the first Monday after the switch; and on-the-job accidents are more common and more severe. Not to mention a loss in productivity. A 2010 study showed springing forward cost the U.S. economy $433,982,548.

Arizona and Hawaii have bucked the trend and don’t make the switch. It’s time for Alaska to do the same.


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