EDITORIAL: Despite their rights, cops risk lives for others

By: The Gazette editorial board
February 28, 2018

Critics say a few deputies are “cowards” for declining to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, to save children from a madman on a killing spree.

Although troubled by the lack of assistance students received during the rampage, we reserve judgment until more facts emerge. No one knows the full story.

Whether the school resource officer and others who arrived on scene are cowards, we know most law enforcement officers do not fit this description. Often in this community, and others throughout the country, we hear about officers giving their lives, or risking their lives, so others may survive.

All three Colorado deputies shot in the line of duty in the past two months – Zackari Parrish, Heath Gumm, and Micah Flick – placed themselves in danger to protect others, knowing they might not make it home after their shifts.

When University of Colorado at Colorado Springs officer Garrett Swasey responded to help agencies stop an active shooter at Planned Parenthood in 2015, he knew he was heading into battle.

Each time an officer confronts the suspect in a robbery, burglary, assault or domestic violence report, he or she does so at risk of taking a bullet

By all accounts, UCCS police officer Larry Darnall was the kind of heroic law enforcement officer willing to put the lives of others ahead of his own.

The 11-year veteran of the force died Saturday at 47, after what his department called “his inspiring battle with cancer.”

“Darnall was widely regarded as a hero for his volunteer actions during the deadly Black Forest fire in 2013,” explained a Gazette news article by Ellie Mulder.

Following reports of officers standing outside Douglas High School, as the shooter had his way, we have heard legal experts explain the right of cops to save their own lives when presented with dangerous options to save others. We doubt many cops live by that right. We know Darnall did not.

During the Black Forest fire, flames destroyed police cruisers. As the inferno intensified, escape became less likely by the second.

As his colleague’s cars burned, Darnall could have rushed from the scene to save himself.

He did the opposite. He rushed toward those even more threatened by the fire. He remained in the heat and smoke to help them, with no assurance he would survive.

“He rescued so many people that they had to ride out on the hood of his car,” said Brian McPike, then the interim UCCS police chief.

“Officer Darnall’s actions that day no doubt had a direct impact on many people’s lives and property.”

The department gave him the medal of honor in 2013.

Officer Darnall put others ahead of himself, like so many heroes before him and those who will live by his example. Honor his life, by constantly thanking the men and women of law enforcement. They seldom stand to the side, exercising their rights, when we need them to save us.

The gazette editorial board