- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier may be angry about the actions of Detective Michael Baylor, who pulled out his gun at a snowball fight in the District last week, but she should be equally angry over individuals throwing snowballs at a 25-year veteran detective’s personal vehicle and also pelting him in the face with a snowball after he exited his vehicle (“D.C. police chief slams officer over gun at snowball fight,” Metro, Dec. 22). Technically, a deliberate delivery of a snowball to an individual’s face could qualify as assault.

The detective had every reason to be concerned about the actions of this large group of people who were congregating on the streets, and it is fair to assume he didn’t appreciate his vehicle or his person being pelted with snowballs. It is one thing to have a fun snowball frolic, but it’s another thing to engage other individuals, as well as their property, when they are not willing participants in the activity, particularly on public streets.

Keep in mind that the officer initially had no police backup. Furthermore, he didn’t know what potential danger he might face with such a large group of people who were already engaging in unsolicited behavior toward him. The detective’s action could be considered a reasonable and proactive protective measure just as it could one of aggressive overreaction.

Detective Baylor has a good professional reputation, and his tenure in the police department that spans more than two decades demonstrates this. For Chief Lanier to disparage and discredit his actions so quickly and publicly is unwarranted and unjustified.

An objective and fair investigation should follow, and the entire incident should be reviewed without the influence of public sentiment and emotionally tainted bias.

Though the police chief and the mayor are probably concerned about the professional image of the police department after the incident, neither of these individuals should hamper the objective review and fair judgment of what transpired merely to appease a snowball-throwing crowd of individuals, who themselves were hardly the epitome of good behavior. Chief Lanier needs to reconsider her hasty reaction. Under no circumstances should Detective Baylor be fired. He deserves to remain on the job.

Though Chief Lanier has stated publicly that she feels inclined to fire Detective Baylor, she needs to step back and realize that his longstanding career of 25-plus years of dedicated service means something.

His contributions to the city far outweigh the outcome of this ridiculous incident. To fire him would be a small and petty reaction aimed only at projecting a desired public image.

KAREN L. BUNE

Victim services consultant

Arlington, Va.

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