In the last few weeks, the Leader has reported on the off-duty arrest
of Burbank Police Officer Anthony Valento and an on-duty incident in
which that same officer shot a Labrador retriever when responding to a
call of domestic violence.
Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the Leader has received several
telephone calls and letters chastising the paper for reporting on the
arrest. After all, it was not in Burbank and the officer was off-duty,
they say. And the shooting of the dog must have been the dog's fault.
Shame on the Leader for writing such trash, they say.
We had our reasons.
Why should the Leader make an exception and not cover an arrest when
it comes to police officers? Are police, somehow, exempt from coverage
because they are, somehow, above the law?
Rarely do we receive complaints from readers concerned about someone's
rights and privacy being violated when we write stories about regular
folk getting arrested for various alleged crimes.
Fortunately, this country mandates that all within its boundaries are
created equal under the law. And, fortunately, in this country, that
means those who create and enforce the laws are also to be held
accountable for any alleged violation of those laws.
Valento is a police officer. And like it or not, not only are police
officers supposed to enforce the law, they're also supposed to adhere to
those same laws. Innocent until proved guilty, Valento will have his day
in court. We will fairly report the results of that process, as well,
whichever way it goes.
But, given the response we've received from the public, perhaps,
police officers do receive special treatment after all. For shame.