Earlier this month we were given yet another reminder of the dangers police officers regularly face in keeping our streets safe. A law enforcement officer’s day can abruptly switch from routine to life-threatening in a flash.
Officers pulled over a 38-year-old man who was driving with a suspended driver’s license. After the stop, the suspect asked the arresting officers if he could go to his apartment before being taken to jail.
After police refused, the man started walking away. He resisted officers who restrained him, and an altercation ensued, with the suspect and two officers tumbling to the ground. During the scuffle, the suspect pulled out a .40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun and pointed it, finger on the trigger, at the face of an officer.
The officer grabbed the gun, ripping it from the man’s hand. No gunshots were fired — but it was a chilling reminder of the dangers that police face.
That sort of outrageous and dangerous behavior can’t be tolerated. The message has to be sent, loud and clear, that anyone who even displays a firearm or other weapon during an encounter with a law enforcement officer will be punished.
Drew Wrigley, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota, is doing exactly that.
He announced federal charges against the suspect who pulled a gun in the altercation with Fargo police. That man was no stranger to law enforcement; he was, in Wrigley’s words, a “three-time loser” with a felony record.
After the incident, police arrested the gun-toting suspect on charges of terrorizing, two counts of preventing arrest, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm as a felon and possession of methamphetamines.
Added to that, thanks to Wrigley’s U.S. attorney’s office, is a federal charge of a felon in possession of a firearm, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years upon conviction.
Sadly, North Dakota still is grieving from the recent deaths of police officers who were killed in the line of duty.
Most recently, in May, Cody Holte, a 29-year-old Grand Forks police officer, was shot and killed when a man opened fire on law enforcement officers who were serving him with an eviction notice. A graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, Holte left a wife and a 10-month-old son.
And Fargo still mourns the death of Jason Moszer, a 33-year-old officer who was shot and killed in 2016 during a standoff after police responded to a domestic disturbance call. Moszer was survived by a wife and two step-children.
Last month, a Grafton police officer was shot while serving a warrant.
We need to send the message, loud and clear — as Wrigley has shown — that people must comply with police when stopped. They should cooperate and not resist in order to avoid senseless violence.
Wrigley’s family knows all too well the pain of violence against law enforcement. His wife Kathleen’s only sibling, Daniel “Danny” Boyle, a rookie Philadelphia police officer, was shot and killed in 1991 in the line of duty.
No family should have to endure that suffering, especially the families of men and women who risk their lives to protect and serve.