Mr. Meyer’s question to me was, “Perly, do you really mean every police officer? Even the killer cops? Yes, Mr. Meyer, I do mean every police officer, no matter where.
We’ve had our share of police killings in Las Vegas going back to 1985, when a Metro snitch put a young man by the name of Danny Pillman in contact with an officer for the sale of two lousy ounces of whatever drugs they claim he had. Seven huge (and I mean huge — at least one of them had a belly bigger than a nine-month pregnant woman) officers shot Danny Pillman in the back and killed him. Officers thought the young man had a gun. They mistook a pager, a beeper, for a gun.
In November 1988, a drunken police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Brian Streitenberger with a .22 caliber gun.
In July 1990 Charles Bush, a casino floorman, slept in a motel room he shared with his girlfriend when three men gathered around his bed. A Metro officer with two other plainclothes cops had entered the room without a warrant and without announcing themselves as police. Charles Bush was choked to death.
Do you believe, Mr. Meyer, that I celebrate their actions? I condemned their actions publicly, but most people seem to believe that all that police officers do is arrest criminals, beat up and kill people, mistreat the rest of the population and everything else negative coming from them, but when they do something good, nobody notices it.
In any profession there are both good and bad apples. Why is it that we always pick the actions of the bad apples in the basket and forget the good apples that have sacrificed their lives protecting and serving members of our community or simply are not involved in any action?
Allow me to mention a few: June 8, 2014 — Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were sitting peacefully during their lunch break at a Pizza Restaurant when two lunatics ambushed them and killed them unmercifully. They had a family; they have a wife and children. They did not deserve to die that way. Don’t they deserve a prayer?
July 23, 2013 — Officer David Buskirk died protecting and serving a member of this community. He died after falling during a nighttime aerial rescue operation of a hiker, who had become disoriented and was stranded on a rock ledge on Mount Charleston. Doesn’t he deserve a prayer?
November 19, 2009 — Officer Trevor Nettleton had just returned home from his shift, after traveling the streets of Las Vegas protecting the lives of many of us. He was working in the garage of his own home when six gang members entered and shot him to death. Doesn’t he deserve a prayer?
February 1, 2006 — Sgt. Henry Prendes was shot and killed after responding to a domestic violence call, trying to protect a woman who allegedly was being beating by her boyfriend. Doesn’t he deserve a prayer?
The officers in Dallas Texas and Baton Rouge Louisiana were protecting the protesters in their communities. They did not deserve to be ambushed and killed the way they were killed. Many of those officers had no knowledge of what those protests were all about, whether Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter or Immigration protests demanding rights they don’t actually have. Don’t they deserve a prayer?
I would like to share a warm story I have kept in my heart for years about a Metro officer by the name of Richard Meyers. Gee, what a coincidence, Mr. Meyer, this officer has almost the same name as you with just one additional “s” added to his last name.
It was sometime in November, 2013, Las Vegas police Sgt. Richard Meyers, a former Marine — and we all know the old saying, “Once a Marine, always a Marine” — walked into a restroom at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas while on duty. Sgt. Meyers was meeting a friend for lunch and had gone to wash his hands when he heard a baby crying in one of the stalls. He walked over to see what was happening.
Sgt. Meyers found a 21-year-old father with tears in his eyes, struggling to change and feed his 3-week old son. Meyers asked the young father whether he needed help. The two talked while Meyers showed him how to change a diaper.
During the conversation Meyers learned that the young man and the
19-year-old mother of the baby were jobless and staying in a motel, sharing the room with another couple.
To make a long story short, Sgt. Meyers and his partners placed the young couple in an apartment of their own. The officers with their own money bought some baby care items, including a stroller, food, water and some furniture items. The police department included the family in its annual turkey delivery to the needy before Thanksgiving. Don’t these officers deserve a prayer?
Just while I am writing this column on Friday July 29, in San Diego, California, at a simple traffic stop an officer was killed and another one badly injured, requiring surgery. The dead officer had two children. Don’t these officers deserve a prayer?
There are bad cops, indeed, but they also need our prayers. We all need to understand that when police officers take their uniforms off, the skin under those clothes, no matter the color, is the same as our skin. And with or without their uniforms, they all have fears and concerns like every one of us. The main problem we are facing now is that we only notice their bad actions, but when they do good things to any of us, we strongly try to erase it from our minds.
Yes Mr. Meyer, my prayers and support are for every police officer, including the canine officers, no matter where. Very recently, in Florida, a criminal suspect stabbed a German Sheppard officer that now needs to be off duty to recover from his injuries. As the old saying goes — the good, the bad and the ugly, they are always in my prayers.
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Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at pviasmensky@lasvegas tribune.com.