Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Families of Law Enforcement

MVFHR's Fall/Winter newsletter is out, with a feature on "Families of Law Enforcement Opposing the Death Penalty." Here's an excerpt:

Kathy Dillon’s father, a New York State trooper, was killed in the line of duty when Kathy was just 14. Kathy says, “Some of my family members support the death penalty. This is hard. It can be a very divisive issue, and that is not what families need. We need to be able to support one another in regards to one of the most tragic occurrences in our lives.”

Only as an adult did Kathy learn that another close family member had shared her feelings about the death penalty. “It was only about five years ago that I learned, in a conversation with my godfather, that my paternal grandmother had not wanted the death penalty either. Though she and I were close, I did not know that she had opposed the death penalty because the subject was not discussed with us children. It was as if my father’s murder, and everything related to it, became a taboo subject. It was just too horrific.”

Survivors like these can feel out of place and wish for greater understanding from others in the law enforcement community. But Gail [Rice, whose brother, a Denver police officer, was killed in the line of duty] suggests that it would also be beneficial if death penalty abolitionists made an effort to imagine, more fully, the perspective of families of slain police officers. Gail remembers the experience of riding with her brother and his partner for part of a shift.

“I was amazed at what they saw and what they had to deal with. I think the abolition community needs to recognize the dangerous situation that police officers are in, to acknowledge how much violence they are exposed to and what it is like to be the first one there at the scene of a homicide.” This kind of understanding can help with any outreach or bridge-building efforts, Gail says. What would help, she suspects, is actually quite similar to what helps when reaching out to families of murder victims: recognition and acknowledgment of the horror and devastation of murder.

Read the entire article.

No comments: