The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) denounces the killings of Sherriff’s Sergeant Steve Owen of the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department, Officer Blake Snyder of the St. Louis County Police Department and Palm Springs Officers Jose Gilbert Vega and Lesley Zerebny, all of whom were killed in the line of duty this past week. The AAAPO sends our condolences to the families of the officers who are victims of these senseless acts of violence.
Deputy Owen, who was shot by a parolee while responding to a burglary call, was a 29-year veteran of the force, and is survived by his adult son, wife, and his mother. Officer Snyder was shot while responding to a routine disturbance call and leaves behind a 2-year-old son and wife. Officers Vega and Zerebny were killed while trying to resolve a domestic dispute. Officer Vega, a 35-year department veteran, was a father of eight and was due to retire in December. Officer Zerebny was a mother of a 4-month-old who recently returned to work from maternity leave. There is absolutely no reason for these brave officers to be gone from their families, friends and colleagues.
Over the last several years there has been a rising tide of disdain for police officers across the country; the same police officers who have sworn to uphold the law and protect you, the public. While these killings do not appear to have been the result of direct targeting, it does not negate the fact that police are being targeted on a regular basis yet they continue to do their jobs in the face of this danger. This is unacceptable, and the AAAPO believes something must be done to quell the violence.
Further, reckless laws like California’s AB 109, which “realigned” responsibility for supervising people convicted of certain felony crimes from the state to local level, Proposition 47, which reduced the penalties for certain crimes, November’s pending Proposition 57, which proposes to parole “non-violent” criminals in the state of California, erode the core of our penal system and contribute to the uptick in crime. With crime and violence on the rise, releasing convicted criminals is a drastic step backwards, particularly when local police agencies are having difficulty recruiting police officers.
“Attacks on law enforcement are attacks on our values, and on the very concept of what we all must defend against—the eroding of our way of life, of everything good we have come to know and love about this country,” said Marshall McClain, President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers and co-founder of the AAAPO. “The parolee in California that shot Deputy Owen was supposedly “non-violent” yet he lay in wait and shot the officer in the face, then stood over him and shot him four more times. We all know the risks associated with our job, but it is always hard to bear when an officer is killed while trying to keep the public safe. The manufactured hatred for police has led us to where we are now and we call on all leaders at the local, state and federal level to help us in putting an end to this narrative.”