The Debt Owed To Law Officers
Law-enforcement officers go to work in the morning, a mourner said on TV the other day, but they never know if they'll come home that night.
The subject of that anguished comment was Virginia Tech police officer Deriek W. Crouse, 39, who was murdered Tuesday after making a traffic stop. But it might just as well have been said of Moore County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Rhyne, 58, who died in an equally senseless confrontation with another disturbed young gunman on the same day.
Our hearts go out to the families of both victims - but especially to the survivors of Deputy Rhyne, who was widely known and liked among Moore Countians for the courteous and friendly professionalism with which he carried out his duties, whether in his recent county position or in his longtime earlier job as police chief in the Foxfire community.
It is as hard to make sense of the local incident as it is of the Virginia one. Both started out as routine police actions that turned suddenly and insanely violent. Rhyne had responded to a report of trespassers at a home near Lobelia. When he attempted to arrest Martin Abel Poynter on a simple child-support warrant, Poynter abruptly pulled out a pistol and shot him.
The killer, a troubled Iraq War veteran, then turned the gun on himself - as did the shooter in Virginia, who wasn't even the subject of the traffic stop. Both men thus take the motivations for their lethal overreactions with them to an early grave.
For all of us, the tragic events of Thursday should make us aware of the deep debt of gratitude we all owe to the law-enforcement officers in our midst, be they sheriff's deputies, campus officers, highway patrolmen or municipal police officers. We tend to take them for granted as they go about their jobs - or even resent them on occasion if they stop us for speeding or otherwise complicate our lives. But they put their lives on the line every day to help make ours safe.
We should offer them heartfelt thanks for that at every opportunity.
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