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Editorial: Hold all accountable

The names of the late Justin Monroe and Vic Isler will be on people’s lips again today as the Salisbury firefighters and others are honored at a national memorial service in Maryland. We should never forget them. A hundred memorial services could not adequately express the debt the city owes public servants who lose their lives in the line of duty.
That’s why it’s so important that all governments provide their public servants ó in fire departments, law enforcement and other services ó the best training, equipment and supervision they can afford.
Salisbury Police have come under scrutiny lately after confrontations with citizens showed up on the Internet, especially a fight at La Bamba. Without any knowledge of what came before the brawl or after, footage from the melee looks damning. An officer appears to be strangling a woman. To maintain public trust and protect everyone ó citizens and officers alike ó the city has to take complaints about this use of force seriously.
And it does. According to Mayor Susan Kluttz, the city asked the SBI to investigate the incident before an activist and others raised questions about it.
Police officers may feel defensive about the investigation. But they must also know that the department’s reputation depends on the actions and attitudes of every member of the force. Integrity is fragile. The officers who put their lives on the line deserve city leaders’ full support, and they should only get it if every officer is fully trained and equipped, acts professionally and is held accountable for his or her actions.
The city owes its police force and its citizens a full report on this incident. Thorough work now could prevent later clashes with much more tragic results. As the fatal 2008 fire proved, the best intentions can still yield devastating results. Now is the time to be proactive.

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