MARK KIESLING: Be outraged if you wish, but don't boycott

2012-05-20T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: Be outraged if you wish, but don't boycott nwitimes.com
May 20, 2012 12:00 am

In my lengthy career, I have seen a number of people shot by police officers I have known personally.

The police officers, not the deceased.

Although like Joel Osment, I have seen dead people. Far too many.

None of those officers has enjoyed the experience. Many of them have had to go into counseling, which almost all departments offer.

So I am very sorry Calumet City police officers had to shoot and kill Stephon Watts on Feb. 1.

The autistic teen (who got no protests from Jesse Jackson Sr. or Al Sharpton, as an aside) was justifiably shot, according to the Cook County state's attorney's office.

It was tragic. The teen was having difficulties with his parents, and when police were called, he lunged at them with a knife.

The parents claim it was a butter knife. The police say it was a steak knife. But it was in a darkened basement, and in a split-second decision there is little time to assess the difference.

Now activists want a boycott of Calumet City businesses. How does that make any sense?

Did Misch Brothers grocery or Mika Locksmith have anything to do with the shooting?

My guess is no. It's just a guess, but I am fairly sure it is on the mark.

So why punish people because they are licensed to do business in the city?

Don't.

Very few of you who are reading this column have confronted an angry 15-year-old in a darkened basement after you have been called by his parents.

Did he have a butter knife, as his dad has said? Or did he have a much deadlier steak knife, as police say? Does it make a difference?

No. He slashed a cop with something. They responded, as they are taught, with deadly force.

No matter what you will hear, I know from my years on the police beat — if you draw your weapon, you shoot to kill. This is not "Bonanza," where Little Joe or Hoss shoots the gun out of the bad guy's hand.

If you are a police officer and try that, well, I guess we will be covering your funeral. They have to take them out.

"How can we fire someone who was found to have done nothing wrong by the Illinois State Police and the state's attorney?" Calumet City Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush asked.

She is 100 percent on the money. You can't.

I do not fault the family of Stephon Watts for being angry. I have three kids, one of whom is going to college to become a police officer.

But that does not color my view. You are a cop and sell machine guns over the Web illegally? Say hello to Club Fed for me. Let me know how it works out for you.

But don't take it out on Calumet City businessmen and women because you are angry at the system.

Think about it: What will that prove?

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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