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A double standard for law enforcement

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As I was reading the editorial entitled “Enough” that ran in the Watertown Times on Jan. 12, I was remembering a tragic accident that involved a firefighter and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. On May 18, 2012, while assisting the local fire department at a traffic accident at the intersection of Routes 37 and 411, a firefighter with over 40 years of experience was struck by a sheriff’s vehicle driven by Deputy Shaun D. Cuddeback and subsequently had to be airlifted to Syracuse for treatment of a double fractured leg.

I mention this now because there seems to be a chronic double standard in Jefferson County: one standard for county-connected law enforcement and a different one for everyone else.

Since the time of the accident, he has not been interviewed or asked questions about the events of that day. It causes me to wonder what, if anything, was done to the offending driver. Can you imagine how an average citizen would have been treated if he or she failed to use caution at a rescue scene? Would they not have been subjected to a breathalyzer test? Would there not have been an assumption of texting while driving? Would not the mental stability of that driver be called into question?

At the very least, an average citizen would have been handcuffed and placed in the back of a law enforcement car while being ticketed for unsafe driving. The average citizen would have been derided as a public menace and would have faced a barrage of fines and legal fees. How much mercy would the court show such an individual? Would there not be a temptation by the court to make an example of such a careless driver?

While I understand that accidents do happen even among people with the best intentions. I can’t help but to think chronic injustice is being covered up by the very people who are paid to ensure safety and justice for the average citizen. The Sheriff’s Department cannot have it both ways. It either has to enforce the law equally or its leaders need to step down and allow someone else to do the job. It won’t be easy overcoming that challenge. But then again, it’s not easy when you’re arrested for questionable behavior and you don’t have any connections with the Sheriff’s Department.

Lisa A. Adair

Watertown

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