Good Tuesday morning. Here’s a look at today’s opinion content:
We comment on the two recent fatal shootings by police, both reportedly involving men with mental health issues, or who otherwise were in emotional distress, both involving allegations that the men attacked police officers, prompting the use of deadly force. One incident occurred last week in Spring Valley; the other on Nov. 19 in White Plains. We write:
… A basic question arising in both deaths, in Spring Valley a week ago and in White Plains Nov. 19, has been whether different police tactics might have brought about different endings. Civic leaders in both communities, however, have largely reserved judgment, pending the outcome of official inquiries. The investigating authorities should place a premium on prompt public disclosure, given the tragic circumstances and the public’s abiding interest.
The official inquiries will address the totality of circumstances confronting the officers involved in each of the shootings, ultimately arriving at a legal assessment or conclusion regarding their conduct, specifically whether the officers’ use of lethal force was justified. That is a highly fact-specific inquiry — reason enough to allow the investigations to run their course. “Everybody has to be patient,” said Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica. Like David Chong, the public safety commissioner in White Plains, he has promised a thorough inquiry, conducted in concert with the respective county district attorney offices.
Locales beyond these specific Rockland and Westchester communities will be watching with a keen eye to see how these cases unfold. Indeed, in other communities that have looked inward following such police shootings, important lessons have been learned about community support systems for people with mental illness who are in crisis, and about police training and tactics for dealing with such individuals — for the protection of responding police officers and the citizens they encounter. …
Deborah Kopald, a health advocate from Orange County, argues that cellular transmission towers pose dangers when located in residential areas.