Just over a week ago, Oakland Police Sergeants Mark Dunakin, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai, and Patrolman John Hege started their day on the job with an expectation that they would be returning home to their families at the end of the tour. These were not rookies; they were aware of the high-crime areas to be patrolled and the violent inhabitants within. Yet, the nature of the job, which is mostly routine, will cause even the most experienced guardian of public safety to approach dangerous situations with a sense of confidence and invulnerability.
When Sgt. Dunakin, 40, and Officer Hege, 41, both on motorcycles, pulled over a 1995 Buick on a routine traffic stop, they had no idea it was to be a fatal encounter. The driver, whose name is not worthy of mention, was wanted for parole violation, a charge which evidently made him desperate enough to go on a killing spree to avoid capture. The officers never had a chance, not even the protection of a full-sized vehicle. When the gunman pulled his car over, he must have viewed the cops as sitting ducks. A sense of rage wells up in me when I think that they were shot dead before they could reach for a weapon or duck for cover when they saw the sudden flash of the gun.
The cold-blooded monster fled on foot as the blood of his victims spilled across the roadway and their lives drained away. Two hours later, when the gunman was discovered in a nearby apartment building, he was able to kill 2 more cops before his worthless life was ended. Sergeants Romans, 43, and Sakai, 35 -- members of the SWAT team, were gunned down while trying to dislodge the animal from his lair. It's difficult to put the enormity of the Oakland tragedy in perspective, but when you realize that their police department consists of 815 officers, 4 of whom were murdered in the same day, a quick calculation indicates that one-half of one percent of the total department was killed in one day. If that same percentage were to occur in New York City, which has about 40,000 officers, it would result in 200 cops murdered in the same day. In the Los Angeles PD, with about 10,000 officers, it would mean that 50 cops were murdered in a day. Chicago, with 13,000, would have lost 65 cops in the line of duty in a single day.
To add more outrage to this vicious massacre, about 60 Oakland residents marched in a demonstration to condemn the victims and honor the creature who murdered them. While the four families of the slain officers were grieving at funerals and burying their loved ones, several lowlifes took to the streets with an unabashed display of inhumanity. If there's anything more bizarre that that, I don't even want to know about it. I can only conclude that the marchers are the lowest form of life on the planet. The only satisfaction one can derive from observing such hideous behavior is the knowledge that those sewer dwellers will never extricate themselves from their cankerous existence. It's important to note that Oakland has about 400,000 residents, hence, the marchers' contempt for human life only represented a miniscule fraction of the city's population.
As so often occurs in the aftermath of such violence, some have tried to add a racial component, as if the gunman, who was black, would have given himself up, if the officers were of the same race. That's utter nonsense! Desperate fugitives don't stop to discern the color of the person wearing the uniform. Furthermore, black on black crime, including murder, is a malady affecting every major city in the US. The President and the First Lady sent their condolences to the families of the slain officers, noting their sacrifices and expressing condemnation for the "senseless violence that took them from us so soon." If anything worthwhile can be derived from this tragedy it's another warning to police officers that there is no such thing as a routine assignment. You can't read the mind of the person you're about to confront. They may be having the worst day of their lives and feel they have nothing to live for. Unless you feel similarly, you'd better take every precaution to protect yourself. If the first two officers had approached that vehicle with guns drawn they may have saved four lives. The old police adage applies: It's better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.
Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob.