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Herring: Loudoun County kids deserve a better example than Trump

As children head back to school, parents and educators will work to prevent bullying and to promote healthy communication in and out of the classroom. We teach kids to follow the Golden Rule and treat each other with respect - even when they disagree. But if children go home and turn on the TV, they’ll hear name-calling and hateful words from a candidate who is running for President of the United States.

With each passing week, I’ve become increasingly dismayed by the deplorable things I’ve heard from Donald Trump and his campaign staff and surrogates, including right here in Loudoun County. It is unworthy of a man seeking to lead this great nation, and it falls woefully short of what Loudoun County expects from a leader.

Instead of having a civil discourse about the issues that matter to Virginia families, Trump’s campaign has relied on insults, division and bigotry. Trump repeatedly attacked a Virginia Gold Star family. He has insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, prisoners of war, and mocked persons with disabilities. 

His advisers and supporters are following his lead. This week, it was reported that a senior staffer in Trump’s Virginia operation posted some disgusting comments on social media about Muslims. It was also reported by the Times-Mirror that another Virginia Trump staffer implied Hillary Clinton will be dead within a year, a sickening statement based on ridiculous internet conspiracy theories. At Trump’s recent rally in Ashburn, Muslim students were kicked out for silently protesting, and the valedictorian of the school, herself a Muslim, said that “for the first time, I was scared to be at my school.”

This normalization of intolerance is apparent in Trump’s extreme policies as well. He has called for a ban on all Muslims entering our country. He has proposed a deportation force to round up and kick out more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., including the parents of U.S. citizens.  He said a judge of Hispanic heritage was unable to treat him fairly because the judge had an “inherent conflict of interest,” a claim so ridiculous that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called it the “textbook definition” of racism.

Here in Loudoun, our diversity as a community is one of our strengths. We welcome everyone who wants to contribute to our success. When Trump hurls his insults at women, religious minorities, or communities of color, he’s talking about our friends and neighbors. The people Trump insults by proposing a religious ban are an integral part of our nation and of Loudoun, and they are every bit the Virginians and Americans that my wife, my children, and I are. As Trump’s running mate Mike Pence returns to Loudoun this weekend, I hope he will answer for the xenophobia and downright ugliness we’ve seen from his campaign.

We can’t let Trump continue to normalize hate. We have to say “enough is enough” and reject his intolerant rhetoric and the policies that go with it. Our children are watching.

Let’s show them that, in Loudoun, we treat everyone with the respect they deserve, even if they look, speak, or pray differently than we do.

Mark Herring

Attorney General of Virginia; Loudoun County resident

Phillips: Columnist’s facts called inaccurate

Ron Speakman’s Community View article last week [“The expanding militarization of Loudoun’s Sheriff’s Office”] is inaccurate, deceptive and irresponsible.

By inaccurate, I submit the following: First, Speakman omitted pointing out in his opening paragraph that in both fatal shootings by Loudoun deputies, the suspects were armed with knives, refused repeated commands to disarm and were advancing on the deputies when shot. In the case of the 2013 Costco shooting, non-lethal force (TASER) was employed to no effect prior to the shooting. Further, Speakman omitted to mention that in the Costco shooting, an investigation by the commonwealth’s attorney ruled the shooting justified (the second shooting occurred earlier this month and the investigation on that shooting is pending). These are all salient facts Speakman should have provided to your readers up front, but they don’t fit his narrative.

Second, Speakman implies that “the P320 Sig Sauer, which is designed for the military” is somehow functionally different from the .40 caliber pistol currently issued to Loudoun County deputies. Both weapons are semi-automatic pistols with high-capacity magazines. The primary difference is in the size of the round fired. As a historical note, the FBI and many law enforcement organizations dropped .38 caliber/9mm weapons from their inventories following a horrendous shootout in Miami in 1986 that left two FBI agents dead and five wounded. Analysis of that gun battle led the FBI to conclude that the revolvers and pistols used by agents lacked the stopping power needed to protect the agents and the public. The FBI initially moved to 10mm pistols, and then to .40 caliber weapons in an attempt to correct the problem. Incidentally, with improvements to 9mm ammunition stopping power, the FBI is now readopting the 9mm as a service weapon.

Third, Speakman claims that “with the right police firearm, the deputy probably could of [sic] only shot once and possibly saved a life.” That continues the old Roy Rogers myth of the 1930s that shooting to disarm or lightly wound a suspect ends the confrontation. In both shooting incidents Speakman cites, it is reported that it took multiple hits before either suspect was disabled. As was vividly illustrated in the autopsy of Michael Brown, of 2014 Ferguson fame, marksmanship can decline during a violent encounter. Discounting the hand wound Brown received when he initially attempted to disarm Officer Wilson and the final, fatal head shot that ended the encounter, Brown was shot at least four times and possibly as many as six times. That created six wounds, none of them disabling. In reality, unlike Hollywood fantasy, just hitting a suspect does not necessarily mean he will go down. The sad reality is that consistently stopping an attacker requires either a hit to the central nervous system (brain/spine) or else inflicting massive blood loss.

Autopsy results on Michael Platt, one of two suspects killed in the 1986 Miami FBI shooting, concluded that the first wound he received resulted in his eventual death. However, Platt continued the gun fight for approximately five minutes, was shot an additional 11 times and managed to kill two FBI agents and wound several more following his initial injury. Disabling blood loss can take time.

By deceptive, I point out that Speakman implies that deputies armed with 9mm weapons will shoot more rapidly and fire more rounds than if they were equipped with the current .40 caliber side arms, or some unnamed “right police firearm.” Based on what? Given the similarities in both function and magazine capacity, that argument is specious and Speakman, as a trained law enforcement officer, knows it.

Finally, and most irresponsible, is Speakman’s claim that issuing pistols “designed for the military” and what he describes as “combat gear” (presumably body armor, webbing to place equipment within easy reach of the officer and possibly AR-style rifles) creates a “militarized culture” that “is why Americans are witnessing these horrific unnecessary shootings.” How absurd. What is creating these shootings is a violent subculture of lawlessness, egged on by George Soros-funded organizations trying to create unrest for political purposes. While there have been some disgusting examples of out-of-control police violence, the vast majority of times where law enforcement uses deadly force, it is found to be justified. Does Speakman disagree with this, or think the same can be said for any of the recent murders/assassinations of law enforcement officers? I don’t think he means that, but that is exactly what he implied with his claim. That’s grossly irresponsible, particularly in the racially-charged atmosphere currently found throughout the country.

Chris Phillips

Sterling

Hall: Weapons and tactics used by sheriff’s office are defended

I was disappointed to see the [Community View column by Ron Speakman]  sensationally entitled “The expanding militarization of Loudoun’s Sheriff’s Office” It sounded mostly like a confused vendetta by a failed candidate for sheriff.

In his highly subjective and somewhat confusing focus on the nuances between 9 mm and 40 caliber duty weapons, Speakman concludes that an officer, when faced with a lethal threat, should possess a weapon that enables him or her to “shoot once” to subdue an attacker. This is counter to a threat neutralization practice of shooting in multiple-round bursts. Furthermore, accuracy should rightly be the objective – versus simply a so-called “one shot and you’re down” firearm.

Furthermore, criminals now have access to more lethal automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Virtually any law enforcement officer will tell you that the surplus body armor and protective personnel carriers being made available to local law enforcement jurisdictions is a godsend. Speakman’s characterization of a “militaristic approach to law enforcement” is not a culture, but rather a means of responding to the current arsenal in the hands of bad people – as well as a tool for basic survival in an increasingly hostile environment.

Regarding his commentary on the “aggressiveness” of the LCSO, quite frankly, the lack of respect for law enforcement is how we have arrived at where we are today. He cites an example of this in his description of a suspect being shot while “allegedly” advancing toward a deputy with a knife. I’m sorry, but advancing at someone with a knife represents a potentially lethal attack and must be met by equivalent or greater force. Is Speakman suggesting that deputies should be issued pocket knives so that they can respond “in kind” to an assailant wielding a knife?

It should be noted that being a sheriff’s deputy or a police officer is far more dangerous today than it was in the past. Various police-focused hate groups have formed; and, across-the-country, law enforcement officers are being targeted for execution simply for wearing the uniform (or as Speakman might describe it, “dressed for combat and wearing a haircut like an Airborne Ranger.”)

Any law enforcement organization involved in the use of potentially lethal force in the protection of its citizen population and itself is going to have an occasional inexcusable errant action. This must be juxtaposed against the overall good that the organization performs. And in Sheriff Chapman’s organization, there is an awful lot of good that is performed.

Speakman inexplicably chose to ignore all of these accomplishments, as well as the great strides made by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Chapman’s administration.

Ron Hall

Leesburg

Smart: Politicizing international trade policy is damaging

Sheriff Chapman: Times-Mirror editor advancing false information about my office

Lt. Governor: Virginia’s economy is on the right track

Speakman: The militarization of Loudoun’s Sheriff’s Office

Ramadan: Has Bennett lived in the 10th District?

Wolfson: Congratulations to Leadership Youth

Everett: More than meets the eyes on Khan story

Walker: Vets paying a stiff price for their patriotism

EDITORIAL: Joy Maloney and the Rashomon question

Korode: Trump and disfavor with conservatives are dishonest

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