On Division in Our Country

            Back in 2015 I came to a crossroads in my career. My employer of 18 years had consolidated its operations, and I was faced with an immediate job loss. I had two choices: I could crumble, or I could find some grit and find a way. I found a way.

            The first client to join my fledgling law practice was the Bristol Police Union. The Union president and my good friend likes to say that he is what kept me from living out of a box seven years ago. It wasn’t that bad, but it was close.

            As you can imagine these last few weeks have been hard on all of us. What I’ve discovered in these weeks though is that there are far more good people out there than bad. There was clear evil in Bristol a couple of weeks ago, but soon afterward the goodness in people rose to the occasion. Hope and kindness overwhelmed the evil that had been there.

            As we have started to get a small bit of distance from that terrible day, there has been a notable uptick in support for police officers. There was true heroism on that night in Bristol from all of the officers called to the scene. Not that they should have been required to do so, but those responding cops proved their worth to their community.

            Unsurprisingly, the dividers at work in our country who prey on the fears and vulnerabilities of the overwhelmingly good American populace have tried to draw lines about who has been right and who has been wrong on public safety. In the never-ending election cycle that has become part of our daily lives, nothing excites the dividers like a great tragedy.

            From what I have been able to discover in the concentrated aftermath of this tragedy, evil is clear on its face and goodness envelops us. Swift and just consequence is vital for each of us to thrive in the communities where we live.

            So I was energized to hear that last week one of the defendants who assaulted and nearly killed Officer Michael Fanone was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison. One of his co-defendants received 86 months in prison last month.

            I have never been an apologist for the hundreds of police officers that I represent. Their heroism can humble us, but they are each human and no different than the rest of us. They screw up, sometimes they do so big time, and they must be held accountable. Accountability helps maintain the integrity of the position, and respect for the person who fills it.

            But it is always important to remember that each of them takes on a task on a daily basis that few of us would choose. And for that they deserve generosity in understanding the difficulty of their role in society.

            I was disappointed when I saw last week that the tragedy in Bristol was becoming politicized. Certainly the provision of public safety is an important policy issue. But exploitation of tragedy for political gain is ugly and beneath the general goodness of almost all Americans.

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