Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End Parole for Cop Killers

Officer Albert Claggett
On June 26, 1978, a 15-year-old criminal brutally gunned down two Prince George's County, Maryland, police officers. Officer Albert Claggett was booking the youth on a theft charge when the boy gained control of Officer Claggett's service weapon and shot him. He then shot Officer James Swart as he walked into the booking room seconds later.

Amazingly, the boy was convicted of only one count of manslaughter - for the murder of Officer Claggett. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity for Officer Swart's murder.

Officer James Swart
To add insult to injury, this double cop-killer was paroled after serving only 17 of his 25 year sentence. The community loved him. The media glorified him. And, as is no surprise to anyone reading this article, this "reformed, model prisoner" continued his life of violent crime upon his release. Thankfully, the next time he was cornered by police after robbing a bank he killed himself instead of turning the gun on the pursuing officers.

The only good that came out of this heinous crime was that this criminal's actions was the catalyst for the creation of Concerns of Police Survivors in 1984, and his subsequent early release and glorification by the media was what spurned me to create the Officer Down Memorial Page in January 1996.

Fast forward to December 26, 2010, in Woburn, Massachusetts. On a snowy night during a rush for after-Christmas sales, a lifelong criminal was prowling the streets a free man after being paroled from his three life sentences. Along with two accomplices, this lowlife walked into a busy department store and robbed the jewelry counter at gunpoint. As he fled the store he was confronted by 34-year police veteran Officer John Maguire. During the ensuing exchange of shots both Officer Maguire and the lifelong criminal were killed.

Officer John Maguire
Parole for killers, especially cop killers, needs to end for good. They are a danger to society and a lethal threat to police officers nationwide. Officer Maguire certainly wasn't the first, and sadly, he won't be the last police officer to be taken from us by a parolee.

In 2011 the ODMP will be launching a No Parole for Cop Killers initiative that will engage the entire law enforcement community to band together to fight the release of any cop killer who is eligible for parole. Please vow to join us in ensuring cop killers fulfill their entire sentences and don't set foot outside a prison wall a single day too early.