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Let’s embrace, not demonize, officers’ good work

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While the families of those men unjustifiably shot by Albuquerque Police Department officers have my sympathy, I cannot agree with their suggestion that holding the National Police Shooting Championship in Albuquerque would be “insensitive” to them.

This is an opportunity, at least for some segments of society, to see law enforcement officers in a positive light.

The competitors, not only from Albuquerque or New Mexico, but from across the nation and the world, are the best of the best at what they do. The event might actually help the public, if they attend, understand what these officers must be able to handle, and the type of training they must receive.

I also have to question the timing of this protest, and the focus (“City to host shooting contest for cops”) drawn to it by the Journal.

Obviously, there has been a lot of attention given to recent police shootings in Albuquerque, but the shooting championship has been held here for eight years, and the shootings in question extend over the past four or more.

Why should Mayor Richard Berry be accused of “insulting us, the parents of the children that have been killed here, and he’s insulting our city,” by the parent of a man killed by an APD officer in 2010? Was she, and the families of those killed, unaware of this event for so long? Is it only now that it is viewed as “insensitive?”

How is this international competition – not an APD event – not “aligned with the city’s publicly stated (sic) goals to reform the department?”

Equally important, is it reasonable to ask that such a long-planned event be canceled less than a month before it is to be held?

Furthermore, if we accept the idea that activities focused on things which may have led to unjustifiable deaths should be banned, what other events must we cancel?

New Mexico has a high number of deaths and injuries due to DWI; should we no longer hold festivals or street fairs that showcase local wineries or breweries? I think that most people, even those who have lost someone to a DWI, will agree that not everyone who drinks drives drunk. Likewise, not every cop uses his or her firearm recklessly.

Why not put a positive spin on the National Police Shooting Championship?

At a time we are lamenting the growth of business and income in our state, should we really consider turning away an event that brings in even a small number of dollars? I believe that the city should work not only to attract such events, but to make sure that the entrants are aware of other recreational opportunities in the area, so as to encourage them to bring along a family member or friend who might not wish to attend the actual competition but who would appreciate what else our city has to offer.

I might add that not only will law enforcement officers be in attendance, but representatives of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program will be there as well, to help spread the message of gun safety – for children and adults as well.

The National Police Shooting Championship should be embraced, not demonized.

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