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Rude awakening

Rude awakening


Imagine yourself asleep in your bed in the middle of the night when you are awakened by a bright light in your face. There is a man in your room, a stranger, blinding you with a flashlight and demanding to know the whereabouts of a particular person he refers to by name. You answer that the person does not live there, and the intruder pans the room with his flashlight as if to make sure. Then he turns and departs, leaving the door open. Would you feel violated? Of course you would.

Now imagine that the intruder is a uniformed police officer. Would that make a difference? The door was locked when you went to bed, and everyone in the household was asleep. How did the officer get in?

You call the station in the morning to ask why a police officer was in your home in the middle of the night. You’re told no officers had been dispatched to your location. Would you feel violated then?

This happened to a family in Dothan apartment complex early Sunday. An internal investigation was launched by Dothan police and the officer in question, Keyon Russaw, was put on paid leave. On Wednesday, Russaw resigned, “in lieu of termination,” Police Chief Steven Parrish said. The investigation, considered a personnel matter, was closed upon Russaw’s resignation. But that’s not likely the end of it; Parrish suggested there could be more in store.

That’s good news for the public, as this unsettling incident raises many questions, particularly: If Russaw was not on official police business, what was he doing there?

Although we are unsure of the status of the incident outside of what’s been reported through the police department’s internal investigation, a criminal probe would likely peel back the layers of this puzzling episode. If the officer is guilty of breaking the law, he should never carry a gun and badge for any other law enforcement agency.

A postscript: Unlike many in this community, we literally deal with law enforcement every day. Because of this professional relationship, it’s our opinion that an overwhelming majority of the men and women who protect and serve us do their jobs with a high level of integrity. Unfortunately, it’s the few who cross the line that cast law enforcement in a negative light.

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