- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, Nov. 28, on law enforcement’s response to Planned Parenthood shootings:

Colorado Springs endured another sad day of violence Friday, as a killer shot several victims in an apparent attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic on the city’s west side. Six officers were shot, and one died. Two civilians were pronounced dead Friday. Conditions of others weren’t known late Friday.

It was the second local active-shooter crisis in less than a month, after the Halloween massacre in which a man walked a downtown street shooting victims at random. He killed three before dying in a shootout with police.

For reasons society has not conclusively determined, mass killings have become increasingly routine - in the United States and abroad, in large cities and in small towns. Guns, anger, despair, religion, ideology, mental illness, broken families, substance abuse and other factors are all considered and debated as society tries to rationalize what motivates those who commit these irrational acts.

The answers to stopping active shootings have proved elusive. We must continue searching for causes and solutions, whatever they may be.



In the meantime, public safety officials will continue learning from each event and honing their response skills.

The loss of at least three innocent lives Friday, and three on Halloween, cannot be minimized. Those closest to the deceased will suffer lifelong losses that cannot be undone.

Law enforcement from Colorado Springs and throughout the region is the only reason these two recent random-shooter crimes did not result in considerably more loss of life.

In each incident, law enforcers from the Colorado Springs Police Department and other area agencies selflessly put their lives on the line so others might live. Friday, they moved without hesitation toward a man who had already shot their colleagues.

As Mayor John Suthers explained, police mindfully gathered intelligence on Friday’s crime scene and contained the suspect long enough to cause a surrender.

More than 100 law enforcement officers responded to Friday’s shooting. The deceased officer worked for the police department of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Other agencies assisting the Colorado Springs Police Department included the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol, the ATF and the FBI.

Suthers and District Attorney Dan May were on scene throughout the ordeal.

The community’s thanks goes out to law enforcers who must confront these wanton killers. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives and the survivors who loved them.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1HGu0Kt

___

The Denver Post, Nov. 30, on the use of armored vehicles in response to the Planned Parenthood shootings:

The increasingly common use by police of heavy equipment and military style weapons and tactics has been a steady theme of critics in the past couple of years, and with good reason.

As writers such as Radley Balko have documented, the number of paramilitary raids conducted by police, sometimes with battering rams and armored vehicles, has soared in recent decades.

However, Friday’s attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs provided a textbook example of how armored vehicles can become a lifesaver when an active shooter is cornered.

Critics of heavy armor in police work need to acknowledge that its use is not always overkill. Sometimes police would be rashly irresponsible not to deploy it.

In the Colorado Springs attack, the lone gunman might have killed more than three people if police had not had an armored personnel carrier known as a BearCat at their disposal. According to various reports, the BearCat was used multiple times to ferry people trapped inside the facility to ambulances and police vehicles outside.

Police also used an armored vehicle identified by The Gazette as a BEAR, which is somewhat larger than the BearCat, to smash a hole in the front of the building for greater access inside. And as The Denver Post reported, not long afterward Robert Lewis Dear gave up and was taken into custody.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration took steps to rein in the militarization of police forces by banning the transfer of some military equipment to law enforcement. It reviewed its policy after an uproar over a heavy-handed show of force by police during protests in Ferguson, Mo.

The administration’s move not only was justified, it failed to go far enough - by not banning the transfer, for example, of the 18-ton Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, or MRAP. The MRAP, complete with a gun turret, was designed to protect troops from roadside bombs, a non-existent threat in America. And yet a surprising number of even small police agencies have been eager to scoop up these behemoths from the Pentagon.

By contrast, the BearCat was designed for an urban environment to withstand the sort of threat police encountered Friday.

When an active shooter is on the loose, the right sort of armored vehicle can be indispensable.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/1Qdy99X

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The Aurora Sentinel, Dec. 1, on a state lawmaker’s comments on the Planned Parenthood shootings:

It seems impossible to stem the national tirade unleashed this week by anti-abortion-rights activists and the disreputable politicians pandering to them, but it’s not impossible to bring swift justice to local officials like state Rep. JoAnn Windholz for such repulsive diatribe.

Windholz, who lives in Adams County and represents north Aurora, set fire to her own nascent political career this week when she posted on social media a rant blaming Planned Parenthood for the heinous murders and injuries last week at their Colorado Springs clinic, an attack carried out by an unhinged, well-armed extremist.

“Violence is never the answer but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any (Planned Parenthood) facility, is (Planned Parenthood) themselves. Violence begets violence. So (Planned Parenthood), YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”

To say that a respected healthcare provider like Planned Parenthood, or any healthcare provider, is responsible for inciting someone to go on a murderous rampage, or that patients and staff associated with Planned Parenthood are somehow deserving of being stalked and murdered, is beyond the pale. It’s unfathomable even with the bar being as high as it is for unscrupulous politicians one-upping each other to boast the most outrageous lies, the worst propaganda and or the most sadistic commentary.

Windholz should immediately resign.

The first-term state legislator does not speak for Aurora, and we feel confident that such abhorrent and repulsive views and comments are not shared by the vast majority of her constituents, even those who support her misguided push to end Colorado’s longstanding pro-choice laws and traditions.

Not only does such invective reveal the poor judgment and character of an insensitive and warped person, Windholz forfeits any credibility she may have had to ethically and responsibly cast votes in the state House on behalf of her constituents.

Reasonable Americans have clenched their jaws and rolled their eyes at the disinformation and outright lies perpetrated by anti-abortion-rights activists and the politicians exploiting the fabrications and controversy for their own short-sighted political gain.

Planned Parenthood is a huge agency and provides some controversial services. They are not beyond reproach, and they have regularly been forthcoming and transparent about their services and practices. It’s important that this organization, heavily funded by government dollars, be accountable, and they are. Critics have launched an unscrupulous attack on the agency, for purely political purposes. The war of lies and misinformation being waged by anti-abortion-rights proponents seemed that it could not be topped.

But since the horrific terrorist attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic began last Friday, the level of outrageous slander and vitriol has become increasingly shrill and repulsive.

An innocent police officer and two supportive friends of patients were slaughtered by a gunman in the clinic last week, with nine others injured. It’s ghastly that Windholz and others would not only continue their nauseating barrage on Planned Parenthood, but then step it up like Windholz did on her Facebook account.

Clearly, not only does she believe the lies her fellow activists spread about Planned Parenthood, she is herself a perpetrator of the deceits, not unlike GOP presidential candidates Carly Fiorina. Fiorina has famously been caught lying about allegedly macabre videotapes that do not, and have not ever existed.

At this point, it’s impossible to determine whether all the lies, propaganda and tirades used by activists actually prompted the alleged shooter to go on his terrorist rampage last week, but it’s perfectly clear that Windholz’ hateful and hurtful comments are beneath any Colorado resident, and especially an elected representative.

If Windholz won’t resign, fellow members of the House and her own Republican Party should censure her. She’s already ended her own political career with her heinous remarks. Now Windholz just needs to make it official.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1XxrfCc

___

The Durango Herald, Nov. 29, on the Planned Parenthood shooter:

In this day, it does not take long to gather an array of information about someone. In the case of Robert L. Dear, Jr., much of it sounds like someone with mental issues.

It was just Friday afternoon that Dear barricaded himself in the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and during some five hours killed three people, a police officer, a military veteran of Iraq and a single mother, and wounded several others.

Dear was living in an isolated trailer in South Park, the western edge of which is marked by U.S. Highway 285, a long open expanse to Fairplay and beyond which Durangoans who drive to Denver know well. (Highway 24 would have taken Dear directly into Colorado Springs.) He had moved to Colorado about a year ago from a small rural community in North Carolina. Early reports are that he had limited contact with his few far-flung neighbors. In North Carolina he left behind a divorce, a minor assault against his former wife, a dispute with a neighbor over a dog and another small house, this one with no running water. Dear apparently made some money by reproducing and selling artists’ work.

While Dear is reported to have said a few words about “no more baby parts,” we do not yet know fully why the attack took place at Planned Parenthood.

A narrative of the terrifying five hours is certain to include details about the defensive equipment and procedures that Planned Parenthood had in place in its Colorado Springs location, and most certainly in facilities elsewhere. Police have already said that the building’s video-monitoring system allowed them to know where staff and clients had taken cover and to show them a way out, and perhaps to follow most of Dear’s movements.

That those systems, in addition to physical barriers, exist in clinics is because Planned Parenthood’s critics deliver constant threats of violence that must be taken seriously. History has proved again that those threats can materialize.

And, of course, there will be great interest in how Dear acquired the weapon he used, and if it is shown that he was incapacitated mentally, whether he should and could have been prevented from having it. It is very likely that there will be no certainty about that. Mental issues come at different times and in varying intensities.

Our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their loved ones in the violence in Colorado Springs on Friday, and to those who were wounded, and hope that there can be some resolution that gives justice to all and makes for a safer world, if even slightly.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1QdyKIQ

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