Letters to the Editor, Dec. 30, 2013 to Jan. 3, 2014
December 31, 2013
Police don’t need guns when shopping with kids
In your December 24-27 issue, an article by Aaron Osowski covered "Shop with a Cop," where law enforcement officers pair with local children in need for Christmas shopping as a display of good will from the officers. These officers take the children Christmas shopping in a "lights-and-sirens procession," fully dressed in their work uniform. Martinez states that some parents can feel uncomfortable around the police because they’ve been arrested; the event, then, becomes a parade to show parents that "these officers … are here to take care of my child" (Sgt. Andrew Wright). As for the children: "We don’t want [children’s] interaction with law enforcement to be negative" (Capt. Justin Martinez).
According to an article on "shopwithacoputah.com," and as far as I can tell from photos published with your story, the officers’ full uniforms mean they also bring their batons and guns. If the officers want to impact these children by spending time with them, I don’t agree with doing it equipped with weapons. It’s yet another example of our law enforcement officers being and trying to look like soldiers; in this case, "good" soldiers. Maybe they should just be civilians here to serve the community, and not soldiers at all; doesn’t that seem like a much better option if they "don’t want [children’s] interactions with law enforcement to be negative"? According to shopwithacoputah.com, "Batons come out" to impress the kids, which is just glorifying how the cops get to beat up bad guys. The outreach program is apparently supposed to make kids trust the officers ("People see, these officers are human beings" – Wright), but the kids who distrust them think that cops beat up bad guys and might make the kids themselves the bad guy.
Bottom line: officers shouldn’t have guns to be with children. Also, and fundamentally: if these officers want to make a good impression on people, it needs to be done with their behavior on duty, but I’m sure they’re aware of that.
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Park City wouldn’t be the same without Tom Clyde’s fine writing. Tom’s clever sense of humor never fails to entertain. He is a welcome voice to those of us in our changing community who share similar views. His recent retrospective prose is touching and offers us meaningful insight as to who we are and why we are unique in a pretty different state. Tom has a sense of place and he is kind enough to generously share all of this with us every week through his colorful writing style. Indeed, here’s to another 50.