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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill points out the angle of the fatal bullet, while discussing the findings of the investigation into the Danielle Willard fatal shooting, Thursday, August 8, 2013. Mike Powell, West Valley Police is on the right.
Extension of Remarks: Another drug-related death ...

The original Saturday Night Live had a sketch they did at least a couple of times called "Ex-Police!" In one, the two cops who had been kicked off the force but couldn't stop crashing down doors and arresting people bust into the apartment of a married couple who are taking the edge off a long day by puffing a little pot. The cops shoot both of them to death and one of them remarks, sadly and without any sense of irony, "Another drug-related death."

Funny on TV. In real life, not so much.

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Investigation » The two detectives who shot and killed Danielle Willard in November may face criminal charges.

Policing the police: Two examples of how it is done — Salt Lake Tribune Editorial 08.10.13

Finding that law enforcement officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect the often ungrateful rest of us, sometimes do things that they clearly should not have done cannot be easy for the judges and attorneys who are called upon to second-guess those actions.

But if we are to have a criminal justice system worthy of the name, it must be done.

That’s what Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill did Thursday in announcing his decision that two West Valley City drug squad detectives were clearly not justified in their actions when they shot and killed an unarmed 21-year-old woman in a parking lot last November.

And that’s what the Utah Supreme Court did Tuesday, when it ruled that a Weber County Sheriff’s Office deputy involved in a fatal high-speed chase is not immune from the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of the victim. ...

Critics hoping to oust Sim Gill after Willard shooting announcement — Jim Dalrymple II | The Salt Lake Tribune 08.11.13

Police politics » Republican chairman asks if Gill is a "cop hater."

A cheap shot: Partisan, racist attacks out of line — Salt Lake Tribune Editorial 08.12.13

Using the case of an unarmed woman killed by two West Valley City police officers as a means of scoring partisan political points is reprehensible.

But that’s just what Chad Bennion, chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party, did when he accused District Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat, of being "a cop hater," and of being soft on crime. Bennion was also not above dropping a little racism into his dastardly attack. ...

Holder proposes changes in criminal justice system — Pete Yost | The Associated Press

Drug crimes » Utah’s Hatch urges caution in lessening minimum mandatory sentences.

Washington • With the U.S. facing massive overcrowding in its prisons, Attorney General Eric Holder called Monday for major changes to the nation’s criminal justice system that would scale back the use of harsh sentences for certain drug-related crimes. ... "We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," Holder said. ...

Eric Holder right to target drug sentencing — Denver Post Editorial 08.12.13

Attorney General Eric Holder may be a latecomer to the sentencing reform movement for non-violent drug offenders, but at least he has seen the light in time for this administration to take meaningful action. And Holder is correct about the practical and moral reasons for doing so. ...

NYPD’s stop-and-frisk blasted by judge, Mayor Bloomberg fights back — New York Daily News 08.12.13

A federal judge blasted the NYPD's use of stop-and-frisk as unconstitutional on Monday and appointed a federal monitor to oversee the program - a move Mayor Bloomberg warned could have deadly consequences.

"There is just no question that stop-question-frisk has saved countless lives. And we know that most of the lives saved, based on the statistics, have been black and Hispanic young men," a combative Bloomberg told reporters at City Hall, where he denounced the finding by Judge Shira Scheindlin that cops had been making "unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks" based on race. ...

'Stop and frisk' never made sense, never seemed constitutional — Carl P. Leubsdorf | Dallas Morning News 08.12.13

... the police overwhelmingly suspected minority men of behaving suspiciously, even if the men were doing unsuspicious things such as walking down the street or sitting on a stoop or wearing a hoodie at the time they were stopped. It was blatantly unconstitutional, and I'm amazed that it took a court as long as it did to declare it so. Today, a federal judge declared that stop and frisk amounted to a violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. ...



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