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Tuesday, June 25, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

Loss of a Deputy

Awaiting critics' outcry when the tragedy is reversed

Editor, The Times:

A King County Sheriff's deputy was murdered Saturday. If the eyewitness accounts in the media are to be believed, horrified bystanders watched as an obviously deranged man executed the deputy with his own gun, after the deputy unsuccessfully tried to subdue him with pepper spray ("Deputy shot dead after man takes gun," Times, Page A1, June 23).

Now is a sad, but perhaps appropriate, time for the abundance of local police critics to examine what their reactions would have been had it been the deputy who shot the unarmed, possibly mentally ill suspect. Would these critics have responded as they always do, by calling for the officer's badge, by demanding civilian review and crying police brutality?

A Sheriff's deputy was killed trying to use (in law-enforcement jargon) the minimum amount of force necessary to make an arrest. The deputy was executed while trying to show a measure of mercy to a man who showed him none. The unarmed and mentally ill are indeed capable of such heinous acts, and those who are quick to condemn the police when the situation is reversed should remember what took place this weekend.
- David Keenan, Seattle

Expect no march

A man answered a call for service. He was the one who the people sent to confront a naked crazy man. The one who was supposed to take control of a situation that no one else could or would.

Deputy Richard Herzog was — before he realized it, I'm sure — involved in a fight for his life. How long the fight was, I don't know. What I do know is that he lost and that a terrible tragedy has befallen all that know him.

There will be a funeral and kind words from politicians (as there always are when the officer loses one of these fights) talking about the highest form of service and the highest cost paid for the citizens of the community.

This will not be the last police officer involved in a fight for his or her life. The sad thing is that when the officers win these fights, people, including some of those politicians, will march up and down the freeway and demand that the officer be fired.
- Steve Hirjak, Seattle

Warriors of peace

A police officer is killed. A naked man pulled the trigger but our politically correct society killed the cop. We put our peace officers at risk by giving the criminals rights they do not deserve.

Just to serve in these mixed-up liberal times makes an officer a hero, let alone the actual heroic deeds. We restrict our public servants in their ability to protect the public and themselves. Our police officers are warriors of peace. A warrior is less effective when fear is present.

We must allow our officers the necessary tools and discretion to protect themselves, to protect you and me.
- Roger Hancock, Auburn

Failure higher up

The recent tragedy of the deputy who was killed this weekend was very disturbing and sad. The fact that The Times led the story on the Sunday edition was understandable, but why did you disclose the identity of the deputy in a paragraph following one just stating that the authorities had not released the identity because the family had not been notified? To me a blatant case of irresponsible journalism!

Additionally, I would hope that you do not let this incident be swept under the carpet as I think it has huge ramifications as to the way our police are handcuffed in the way they are enabled to conduct their work. A person with 20 years in the special forces knows better (how) to handle this situation in Newcastle, but he was worried about doing the "right thing" since this individual was African American.

I think it is time that we as a community wake up and express our outrage and vote the current administration out. They are failures and this should not happen again.
- Steve Telford, Kirkland

Questions of judgment

So — some buffoon has the temerity to ask whether race was a factor in Ronald Keith Matthews being confronted by Officer Richard Herzog ("Suspect in deputy killing just ended prison term," Local News, June 24).

What sort of mentality does it take to ask such a question? My guess is that the asker (whom the article chicken-heartedly does not identify) would be one of those idiots who asks questions like:

• What was the pedestrian doing walking on the same sidewalk as the drunken driver before she was killed?

• Why did that woman dress provocatively and then walk down a public street?

• Why didn't mom-and-pop investors know that the heads of big corporations (e.g., Enron) would be defrauding them?

• Why didn't the people in the Pentagon and World Trade Center get out before the planes attacked on 911?

People who ask such questions need to be identified in your articles so they can receive the public humiliation that they so justly deserve. You do the Seattle community a big disservice by letting such people ask their moronic, hateful (though politically correct) questions with anonymity.

I call upon The Seattle Times to do better.
- Bal Simon, Bellevue

To ignore is lunacy

This is such a tragedy, and should be of shocking concern to all citizens and residents of this metropolitan area. Deputy Sheriff Richard Herzog was defending us and our rights when he was shot dead buy some deranged criminal as he attempted to subdue him with pepper spray.

Get a clue, folks: If we listen to the fuzzy thinking of social activists who at every turn criticize the police, and demand non-lethal tactics and weapons, we are going to see more policemen, firemen and public-service workers dead in the streets. We live in a climate where violence is everywhere around us, and to ignore the threat is lunacy.

We need to protect our police and fire personnel, and when they are confronted with a dangerous environment, they should be treated with respect and dignity when they are forced to respond with deadly force. This is the result when they don't.

It saddens me, and should sadden us all to lose this fine police officer.
- Duane Dier, Seattle

Sacks in Iraq

Saddam wouldn't help

David Balint's letter ("Iraq's counter-altruism," Letters to the editor, June 24) criticizing Bert Sacks for taking medicines to Iraq, implies, contrary to evidence, that Saddam Hussein has humanitarian instincts toward his people. Balint says "Sacks is simply aiding terror by making it easier (for Iraq) to spend the money in support of terror rather than on its own citizens."

Not so. No evidence or reports that I have seen indicate that Saddam considers that particular tradeoff. If he didn't spend the money on terror elsewhere (Balint cites the money Iraq sends to each family of Palestinian suicide bombers), he would likely use it at home to continue terrorizing — not helping — his own people.

Saddam and his ruling circle have all the medicine they need. Bert Sacks and his colleagues are helping the people that Saddam doesn't help, a demonstration of American goodwill that counters the lies that Saddam puts out about us.
- Charles Davis, Seattle

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