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Four police shootings in a week are a sign

Internal investigations have begun into four separate cases in a week's time in which a sheriff's deputy or a state trooper shot and killed a suspect.

Such incidents demand an independent review to make sure the homicide was justified.

The public understands that law enforcement officers have little time to react and that an error can be fatal for the officer. The memory of the Aug. 28 slaying of two state troopers - Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey and Eric Workman - remains fresh.

Trying to make sense of all this is difficult, but Sgt. Michael Baylous, the spokesman for the State Police, gave it a valiant try.

After nearly 20 years as a trooper, Baylous said society has changed and there is a lot less respect for authority.

"We now have a generation of kids that grew up exposed to violence, be it video games or movies," Baylous said. "There's also a lack of respect for authority. We see it in classrooms.

"These kids that had no respect for authority in the classroom grow up and have no respect for authorities in the real world."

This stretches back longer than one generation, as the four recent cases show. The men involved ranged from age 31 to 49. Each confronted and posed a threat to the officers.

Consider that Kanawha County deputies responded to a report that Lawrence Edward "Pete" Vaughan, 49, of Quick was beating his mother.

No man should ever hit a woman, but what sort of man beats his own mother?

Every law enforcement officer at the state or local level in West Virginia must attend the State Police Academy in Institute, where they receive the most up-to-date training possible.

The professionalism of law enforcement in the state has greatly improved since the academy opened in 1953.

Now if we could only get society to return to the days of yore when children were raised to respect their elders, particularly teachers and police officers.

 


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