Opinion: Another shooting, what will we do?

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Another local shooting has darkened our community.

For those of you who haven’t seen or read about it, a Los Alamitos Police Captain and the Westminster City Clerk were found shot to death Monday morning in the police captain’s Seal Beach apartment.

The shootings took place Sunday evening following the clerk’s 911 phone call for help.

Police responded with a SWAT team, treating it as a “barricade” situation.  The surrounding Seal Beach neighborhood was put on lock-down, with neighbors being told to stay inside their homes and lock their doors.

News reports indicate the two individuals had a stormy “romantic” relationship.  The City Clerk leaves behind three children.

Some people on social media presume that the Police Captain shot the City Clerk and then shot himself. (Editor’s note: The police have confirmed that the police officer was the shooter.)

Whatever label we apply to these types of crimes, “domestic violence” or, more generally, “gun violence” or some other term, they are horrifying.

Here, two people died.  Back in 2011, eight people died in the Seal Beach salon mass shooting.

Both incidents have two common elements:  (1) a conflicted romantic relationship; and (2) a gun being used to end the conflict.

Sunday’s crime involved an experienced Police Captain, a person who not only has a right to carry a weapon, but has been trained to use it.

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s I worked as an attorney for law enforcement personnel. Several of my cases involved defending police officers who improperly used their weapons in personal relationships. Sometimes officers “merely” brandished their weapons to make a point.  Other times it was worse, and a wife or girlfriend got hurt.

As was the case in many domestic violence situations, the spouse or girlfriend would often refuse to cooperate with the investigating authorities. This resulted in the officer getting off with a light punishment, frequently with no criminal prosecution and a mild disciplinary penalty.

Unlike the 1980s and 90s, our police departments and courts are taking a more serious approach toward domestic violence, including domestic violence committed by police officers.

Yet, one wonders whether we have come far enough in this area.  Many online reports indicate that police domestic violence occurs at a rate several times higher than the general population.

Given the fact most police officers have a lethal weapon in their possession on a 24-hour, seven day a week basis, the potential for harm during domestic disputes is obvious and logical.

For this reason, it is also obvious and logical for law enforcement agencies to take appropriate preventative measures in this area. This is an issue which can no longer be denied or ignored.

Joel Block is a retired attorney and freelance writer living in Rossmoor.

Opinion: Another shooting, what will we do?