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Reminded once again of the importance of our police

Reminded once again of the importance of our police

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In the past few years, it has become all too common to condemn the police. A series of suspect shootings of Black men caused many Americans to turn against the men and women in blue (or tan or gray, depending on the department).

Sometimes the criticism is justified, sometimes not. While there are a relatively few bad police officers, it is wrong to tar all police men and women with such a broad brush.

The vast majority of law enforcement officers are good, honest, decent people who desire to serve their friends and neighbors while risking their life on a daily basis.

Such was the case in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday. It was a normal day in the liberal enclave northwest of Denver. People were at work or in school or doing the weekly shopping for groceries. Boulder is known as a friendly town where almost everyone gets along.

That image was shattered mid-afternoon when a gunman, identified by police as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, another Denver suburb some 30 miles from Boulder, walked across a parking lot toward a King Soopers grocery store. Witnesses said he walked up to a man and shot him numerous times. Alissa then entered the store where he continued his shooting spree, witnesses said.

Boulder police received several 911 calls alerting officers to the ongoing events. Police rushed to the scene.

First to arrive was veteran police Officer Eric Talley, 51, a father of seven children. He could have waited for more police to arrive, but that went against his training. He heard shots inside the supermarket and went in -- armed only with his handgun -- to try to stop the horror.

Sadly, Officer Talley was gunned down, dead before his fellow officers could drag him out of the madness.

Meanwhile, store employees helped as many people as possible to escape out a back door by the loading dock.

Eventually, heavily armed officers were able to arrest Alissa -- who was wounded in the right leg -- and lead him from the store.

Also killed in the shooting were Denny Strong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65.

Leiker, Olds and Strong were employees of King Soopers, which is owned by Kroger.

Alissa has lived in the United States most of his life. His older brother said he was bullied in school for his last name and for his Muslim faith. How many times do we hear that mass killers were bullied when they were younger?

Alissa reportedly purchased the AR-15 style pistol only six days before.

The events in Boulder happened less than a week after six people were gunned down in Atlanta-area massage parlors.

As this is written, there still are many unanswered questions. Alissa's motive is not known, nor do police know why he drove to south Boulder to commit the shootings.

One thing that is sure is that Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley is a hero. His father, Homer Talley, said, "Didn't surprise me he was the first one there."

Officer Talley joined the Boulder Police Department in 2010. He was known as a prankster with a great sense of humor. He taught his family CPR and a son used it to save a family member who had swallowed a quarter. Two weeks before his death, Officer Talley and his son accepted an award for the son's actions.

Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said, "He didn't have to go into policing, but he felt a higher calling." She added he was "everything policing deserves and needs."

On Monday, Officer Talley did what police are trained to do: He rushed into the danger to try to save lives.

Being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous profession. Officers never know when a domestic dispute or a traffic stop or some other routine activity could lead to tragic results.

There are bad police officers who shouldn't carry a badge, and they must be weeded out.

The vast majority of police officers are amazing. They joined law enforcement to serve and protect.

Thank God they did.

We mourn with the family of Officer Eric Talley and all the victims of Monday's shooting.

And all our law enforcement officers and other first responders remain constant in our prayers.

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