Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Who keeps us safe?

For those of us in NYC, the recent Boston bombings renewed the awful memories of 9/11/2011. Even though it was "fortunately" a much smaller event, 3 people died and over 100 people were injured. It reminds us of how just a tiny handful of lunatics (in the case of Boston, only two) can scare the daylights out of a major city and a country of over 300 million people.

It also begs the question: who keeps us safe?

Who are the men and women of law enforcement and the judicial system tasked with protecting us?

They are, like all of us, only human. Sometimes they suceed, sometimes they fail. When they succeed, we don't notice it, and we take their success for granted. When they fail, we get angry
-- because people die or are injured-- and we demand answers.

Meet Kristy Kottis. She is in charge of the FBI in NYC. She's amazing. A law enforcement professional through and through, for last several years she has been proactive in guarding against terrorism in our town. As you might imagine, this is a herculean task, but as this long article shows, she's just the woman for the job. Can't think of a man who could do better. Our city is lucky to have her. 

Sadly, this is not the case of Elizabeth Ledder. Who's she you ask?

A little history: if you're a New Yorker of a certain age, you may recall the 1989 Central Park Jogger case where a young woman was raped and beaten in said park on an April Sunday night. Five young black men were convicted and served more than a decade in jail before it was revealed that they were totally innocent (they were only let out of jail when DNA evidence indicated that they were innocent and someone else confessed to the crime). As a recent PBS documentary shows, the Manhattan DA Elizabeth Lederer, who prosecuted the case, coerced false confessions and committed grevious malpractice. And yet, when this was revealed, nothing happened to her. She wasn't disbarred or censured by the New York State bar. In fact, she still works in the DA's office and even teaches law at Columbia Law School.

Can you freakin' believe that?

Ms. Lederer is an example of the worst of the judicial system. As dishonest, probably racist prosecutor who destroyed the lives of five young men and sadly has suffered no punishment for her criminal failure. If you think this is outrageous, please join me in signing the following petition demanding that Columbia Law fire Ms. Ledere. Frankly, she should be disbarred too.

So there you have it, the good and the bad of law enforcement. It also shows you the great power that people who put people in jail weild. Sometimes they are good and succeed, and our lives are made immeasurably better for it. But when they fail, or are malicious, the price of destruction we pay is incalculable.

Who keeps us safe? is a question we should always be asking. 

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