Letter: A dangerous incident in South Salt Lake is an example of policing done right

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)

I salute the South Salt Lake Police Department for not making the national news in the last year.

At one point in my checkered past, I worked as a police/fire dispatcher for a small Utah city. During that phase of my life, I met many police officers who fell into several categories. As fate would have it, I reunited with an officer, at that time a police sergeant, whose father I had known personally. The father was a long-time officer in the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office, a man I had a lot of respect for. I also became acquainted with a broad spectrum of officers. There were those who were there to provide public protection and service, the majority, which included my Deputy friend’s son. There were those who had a job and showed up for the paycheck, including the guy who kept damaging police cars by his inability to drive. Then there were the gun freaks: the guy who shot himself in the foot while going to the bathroom; the macho guys who were there to wear a badge and abuse those who abused them in junior high (not surprisingly the female officers didn’t have the machismo problems); the ones who wanted S.W.A.T duty so they could play with assault weapons and hope for a chance to use them.

Bottom line is that I learned that police officers are just people trying to do a difficult job. Some have better intentions than others.

That’s just the background.

The point of my praise is an incident which occurred in the last year in front of my house in South Salt Lake. We have security cameras which show a substantial part of the street in front of our home. One day, I noticed some strange activity on the street. My wife and I rose to look out the window and my wife said, “Oh god, he’s going to get shot.” A South Salt Lake officer was confronting a man who appeared to be running from him. The man turned, drew a gun from a backpack and waved it in the air. The officer, with a gun drawn and pointed at the man, did not fire. The man dropped the gun and fled.. He was eventually captured and arrested. Nobody was killed that day. Hard as it is, that is how policing should be. Kudos to that brave officer.

Paul Palmer, South Salt Lake City

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