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Sarasota News Leader January 18, 2013 OPINION Page 59 Perhaps those fears were in her thoughts as she accosted the pair, believing she was in grave peril if she did not act aggressively to neutralize the "threat." Perhaps that fear short-circuited her hearing, so she could not understand the pleas of the realtor and her client — that they were simply looking at a house for sale. Perhaps the fear dimmed her vision, so she could not readily see that neither was armed and obviously of no threat to her. "I'm not apologizing for doing my job," she reportedly told them. Once the identities of the pair had been established and it was obvious they had been the victims of untoward circumstance, the officer steadfastly refused to offer any sort of apology for their ordeal. Frankly, we do not feel safer when we know our police react out of all proportion to the simplest and most benign of threats. We do not relish the prospect of a routine traffic stop or even a casual exchange on the sidewalk That, of course, becomes the crux of the matter. The "job" of a police officer is to protect the citizens and guests of the City of Sarasota, with intelligence, prudence and discretion — not go off half-cocked like someone out of a cheesy TV cop show, doing her best Cagney & Lacey impersonation. A properly trained and experienced officer should have recognized almost instantly that the pair were no threat Fortunately, the officer's hands remained and, even while her weapon remained causteady throughout the ordeal, so a quivering tiously drawn, allowed them to establish their finger did not send one or both of those unfor- identities. In civilized circles — which we like to think include Saratunates to the hospital sota — this would or the morgue for the have been followed "crime" of inspecting a Frankly, we do not feel safer when by an earnest and piece of property. we know our police react out of all good-natured apoloproportion to the simplest and most gy by the officer for We remain perplexed benign of threats. the misunderstanding why, even as the backand good wishes for up officers arrived and the rest of their day. secured the situation, the "suspects" were only allowed to sit up on But none of that happened. the cold, concrete slab. At this point, it should If anything, this episode tells us — and Chief have been obvious that the realtor and her cli- DiPino — that the homeless and minorities ent were who they said they were: law-abiding and immigrants in Sarasota are not being sincitizens engaged in a perfectly legal activity gled out by the Sarasota Police Department. — not burglars. Pretty much anyone who does not look "right" But what mystifies us most is the callous de- or is not where an officer thinks he should be fensiveness of the first officer on the scene. can be subjected to the "SWAT" experience.

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