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Brave police officers deserve support, not scorn

Re: Police shooting death of 16-year-old Brian Hickman and the Nov. 15 Letters to the Editor.

While I pray for this child's soul, I pray harder for those who remain. I am ashamed of many of my fellow citizens.

One person threatening another with an 8-inch knife with the intent to kill or be killed is "not a dangerous criminal" according to Lynn Caruso. Tell me, just what does it take to be criminal?

This child may have been a "typical teenager" (What a sad indictment of our times!) and on the mend, but that evening, for reasons we may never know, he was transformed into a crazed criminal. Sadly, it was not the "good teen" who confronted the police officer.

If this child had been surrounded outdoors in an open area, I'm confident the outcome would have been quite different and the child would be alive today. But it didn't happen that way. It was a small apartment, where the child could come out of nowhere quite quickly. We seem to forget that there were other innocent civilians involved. This child posed a lethal threat to them. That's why the officers were called in the first place.

I do not believe officers are trained to kill. At times, circumstances dictate that they must, to protect you and me. We are told there are internal reviews and several external reviews of the action that took place, up to and including potential criminal prosecution of the officer.

It is ironic how we demand that criminals have all the rights in the world, but that an officer putting his life on the line to protect you and me is guilty and maligned long before due process has been completed. If the officer did something wrong, he will be dealt with appropriately. If he did not, then we need to console him and recognize that his life is also changed forever, as he has taken a child's life, albeit to protect us.

If you disagree with the police procedure that led to this unfortunate death, take it up with the chief or City Commission. Do not take it out on the brave men and women who implement it.

P. Competelli, Dunedin

Criticism of police officer

in shooting is misplaced

Re: Fatal police shooting of teen was an outrage, letter, Nov. 15.

I'll tell you what is an outrage. A man who has spent the last 26 years serving his country and the citizens of Pinellas County is being lambasted in the media for protecting others and defending himself against a young man on conditional release from the Sheriff's Office boot camp program who was armed with a knife and described by his own friends as "drunk and enraged" and "extremely hostile." That is an outrage.

When did it become acceptable in this society for a teenager to commit robbery, theft and battery, and to resist arrest with violence _ this behavior is described as "typical teenage stuff"? What kind of teenagers do you know?

It was stated that Brian Hickman was "not a dangerous criminal." What exactly constitutes a dangerous criminal if not someone with a criminal history threatening people with a weapon?

The suggestions in the Letters to the Editor section on Nov. 15 ran from the patently ridiculous "call a counselor" to an expressed wish that "the parents come down heavily on this officer." I'm not sure if that one is a call for vigilantism or to try and make money from a tragic occurrence. Either way, it shows a deplorable lack of integrity.

We used to have respect for police officers and the job they do every day. People took responsibility for their own actions. Parents taught their children that there were consequences for misbehaving.

Not anymore. Now there is always someone else you can blame, and it's usually the cops. Unless, of course, you happen to need one. But then you can always blame them for not getting there fast enough, not reacting fast enough, or not being tough enough on the criminal in your case. Most people have to worry more about the traffic making them late for work than the possibility that they may have to face such a situation every day they go to work.

During the last 10 years, an average of 163 law officers have died annually in the performance of duty. That figure comes from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Web site. Perhaps the outraged writers would have been happier to add to that number. Or maybe the officers should have just left Hickman to possibly hurt or kill the other teenagers that were in the townhouse that day while they searched for a counselor. Then everyone could be outraged that the police weren't doing their job.

Gina DeWitt, Tarpon Springs

Letters display ignorance,

arrogance and stupidity

Re: Brian Hickman and Nov. 15 letters to the editor.

I am so sick of all these letter writers who come out of the woodwork and rant and rave their moronic second guesses about what police should have done. They only show their ignorance, arrogance and blatant stupidity.

Few of us have any idea what it takes to be a police officer these days, although some of us think we do from watching cop shows on television. We expect police officers to not only enforce the law and catch the bad guys but also to be psychiatrists, social workers, family and marital relations counselors, nursemaids, fight referees, educators, big brothers/sisters and surrogate parents _ in other words, to save us from ourselves and each other and to do all this in at least two or three languages, thank you very much.

The only ones who know what really occurred during the night in question are those who were there as it happened. For any of us to criticize and express outrage without knowing all the facts and circumstances is to make a real show of what idiots we can be.

Mind you, these letter writers will be the same ones who scream in outrage when a cop isn't around when they need one.

And to the lady who wrote that a counselor should have been called . . . well, if you're ever face-to-face with someone brandishing a knife at you, I'll be the first one to lend you my cell phone so you can call that counselor.

Linda Luise Treuhaft, Palm Harbor

Teenager's actions led

directly to his death

If Brian Hickman had been acting like a normal teenage boy of 16, he would not have been shot. His own friends said that he was acting strange, that he was drunk and enraged. One of his friends locked his own girlfriend in a bedroom because he was concerned for her safety around Brian. I ask you, does this sound like Brian was acting like a normal teenager?

As for whether he was a hardened criminal, he had already been ordered to spend time in the boot camp program. You don't go there because you make one or two mistakes. Battery, burglary, theft, resisting arrest with violence, possession of drug paraphernalia _ these are some of the incidents he was involved in.

Brian faced going back to boot camp on Thanksgiving Day, and with the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs, a distraught teenager decides that he is going to "go out like a soldier."

Officer Marcus Lane of the Clearwater Police Department should be commended for his actions. How can something be very wrong here when a police officer shoots someone who is wielding a weapon?

A letter writer asked why backup was not called. Officer Lane had backup, but unfortunately, Brian did not respond to Officer Lane's requests or anyone else's. Who was committing the unnecessary act of violence _ the officer protecting the safety of the citizens of this city or the teen on a rampage?

We all make choices in life and Brian made the wrong choice. I would like to thank Officer Lane for making this city a little safer for my children.

Sally McKinney, Clearwater

Despite some troubles,

teenager was a fun person

Re: Brian Hickman.

I was shocked to find out one of my friends from school, Palm Harbor University High School, had died. When I found out it was Brian Hickman, I was in shock. When I heard the news and read the paper, I was very sad to see that Brian was made out to look like some hardened criminal.

He may have had some teenage troubles, but I thought someone should share the side of Brian that those of us who saw him every day knew.

I knew Brian since middle school and we used to walk home together. He would do the dumbest things, but you would laugh so hard. Brian was one of the funniest and nicest people I have ever gotten the chance to know and be friends with. I have not yet heard one person say one bad thing about Brian. He was always there if you were sad and boy, could he make you laugh.

Brian was an awesome person and I don't want people to get a misconception about him.

Kristen N. Meyer, Palm Harbor

Your voice counts

We invite readers to write letters for publication. Address them to Letters to the Editor, the Times, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Or you may fax them to (727) 445-4119, or e-mail to

npletterssptimes.com. E-mail letters must be text only and cannot include attachments.

Letters should be brief and must include the writer's name, city of residence, mailing address and phone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

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