Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, we are told, was a very good cop. We can see that clearly.
After 32 years on the force, the officer known affectionately as “G.I. Joe” was weeks away from retirement. Monday, he spoke with Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmit about making sure the department’s police explorers’ program, Post 300, that he spent 30 years building up for youth and young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 would go on after he left the job.
But on Tuesday morning, Lt. Gliniewicz, 52, was dead, fatally shot while in pursuit on foot of three suspects in far north suburban Fox Lake.
We mourn his loss and honor his memory. And we ask people to remember that for every cop who behaves unprofessionally or engages in criminal behavior — the ones who have been making headlines of late — there are thousands more men and women who do their jobs admirably under the most dangerous circumstances. They are parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and neighbors who routinely put their lives on the line so the rest of us have a better chance of living safely and freely in our communities.
These truths cannot escape us, especially when four police officers are slain across the U.S. in nine days.
On Friday, a lone gunman ambushed Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth, 47, of Harris County, Texas, while he fueled his patrol car. Goforth was shot 15 times, allegedly by Shannon Miles, in what officials described as a “coldblooded execution.” Two days earlier, in Sunset, Louisiana, police officer Henry Nelson was killed with his own gun while responding to a domestic dispute. And two days before that, Louisiana state trooper Steven Vincent died after being shot in the head during a traffic stop.
Their deaths are senseless, brutal and tragic for those who loved them and for a society that relies on these men and women to stand on the front lines of crime to protect us in matters big and small.
These days cops are being scrutinized like never before as videos of police officers behaving badly, even criminally, continue to surface. This is an important technological development that we hope ultimately will force police departments to do a better job of training officers to deal with the public and aggressively weed out morally corrupt cops. There should be no tolerance for an officer who abuses authority.
But the vast majority of police officers are, like Gliniewicz, among our nation’s most honorable men and women, doing a job fraught with peril. That should not even need to be said.
They deserve our respect and appreciation. Our baseline understanding should be that we need them more than ever.
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