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First of all, sorry I’ve been away so long. The baby is keeping me busy and when I get a chance at some downtime, blogging isn’t the first thing on my mind.

October 31, Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car after a routine traffic stop. Trainee Officer Britt Sweeney was hit by gunfire but survived. The accused killer, Christopher Monfort, was shot and apprehended by police November 12th. Monfort is now also suspected in an arson that destroyed three police cars and a mobile precinct on October 22.

November 29, four Lakewood Police officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, Mark Renninger, and Greg Richards lost their lives as they prepared to begin their shifts. Authorities are now on a massive manhunt for Maurice Clemmons.

Neither of these shootings were cases of officers responding to a crime-in-progress. These were ambushes, assassinations. And as I see it, both of these could have been avoided.

Monfort doesn’t have much of a record, just three traffic violations in the past two years. He graduated from University of Washington in March 2008 and appeared to be headed to graduate or law school. He “wanted to make a difference in society” according to his advisor at Highline Community College. So maybe it isn’t anything about Monfort himself that should have drawn red flags, but there was a threatening note left at the scene of the October 22 arsons. One officer told SeattleCrime.com that higher-ups didn’t release the note to other officers, who would have used the information to be more cautious in their surroundings. Not parking on the side of the road after a traffic stop, for example.

The case against Maurice Clemmons seems more clear. He was supposed to be serving 95 years in prison in Arkansas, but Gov. Huckabee commuted his sentence. He violated his parole and went back to jail for a few years. One source said he has been convicted of 13 felonies, but another said that he had five felony convictions in Arkansas and eight felony charges in Washington.  Clemmons was most recently arrested for child rape and assaulting a sheriff’s deputy.  Unfortunately it is Washington law that bail must be set for all crimes except capital offenses.  He came up with the necessary $15,000 to be released and five days later murdered four police officers.  As of my writing this, Clemmons is still evading capture.

Five cops, all with at least 11 years experience are dead, and it seems that they would still be with us were it not for some procedural screw ups.  Officer Brenton (and all other area law enforcement) should have been alerted to the threat found at the arson scene.  And it’s baffling as to how a repeat offender and parole violator with an obvious lack of respect for the law (punching a deputy in the face) and questionable mental stability (his wife says he told his rape victim he was Jesus) was let out on bail.

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How much voting is too much?

When I first moved here, I thought Seattleites and Washingtonians must really like to vote.  Now, three years later, I think that the city and state government really like to make us vote.  That way politicians don’t have to risk making any unpopular decisions.  I thought that the point of electing officials was to choose people who you think will carry out your wishes or act in your interest.  While I do think ordinary citizens should be somewhat educated on the issues so we know which politicians to support, we are too busy with our daily lives to discover all the nuances of public policy.  I understand having public comment sessions for different projects, but ultimately I wish politicians would make the decisions.  On one hand, I’m glad that Seattleites got to vote to reverse City Council’s “nanny state” four-foot rule in strip clubs, but should the final details on how we replace the viaduct, increase public transportation, acquire & fund parks, and improve Pike Place Market really be put to voters?

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