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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 8, 2009 at 8:42 PM

Teenager beaten by King County sheriff’s deputy

Framing actions in more benign context than deserved

As the parent of a young woman who is still a teenager, I have to say Jerry Large’s column, “No excuse to lose cool with teen” [Local News, March 5], comparing the confrontations parents have at home with lippy teenagers to what happened in that King County sheriff’s cell, lets the institutional culture allowing this abuse to happen off the hook.

Teenagers push boundaries and offer defiance in the context of family relationships that usually contain, among other things, trust and love. Most parents master their own anger and hold back from harmful acts of retaliation.

Teenagers can drive their parents to distraction; they have the power to hurt our feelings because we’ve given them so much of ourselves. In contrast, Deputy Paul Schene and Officer Travis Brunner assaulted a teenage girl they’d just met.

No prior relationship.

When Large writes of Schene, “I don’t know whether he is bad cop, or just pushed beyond his limit,” and, “most people know better than to talk back to a police officer,” he (unintentionally, I hope) frames Schene’s actions in a more benign context than they deserve.

The point is any reasonable adult should have known how to behave in this situation.

— Valerie Schloredt, Seattle

Time to look again at who we choose to protect us

As a teenager myself, I know we are constantly harassed by police and law enforcement for ridiculous reasons. I live in a small town, and cops will pull you over for blinking when driving.

Still, that does not justify the 15-year-old girl kicking a shoe at the police officer. Disrespect never solves anything with police.

The thing that had me baffled was the officer and his partner’s reaction. They completely made fools of themselves, pulling the girl by her hair and punching her.

It clearly shows how humiliating and disgraceful they are and how ill-tempered police can be.

The officer should have his badge removed, be fired or put in jail. Even better would be a combination of the three. His partner is just as guilty for witnessing this extremity and not doing anything about it.

If this is who America trusts to protect us, we need to look again. The video of the abuse terrifies me and makes me want to avoid police at all cost.

If this video can produce so much fear in one person, imagine what the whole country thinks. We should have officers who are patient and understanding, providing equal treatment to all citizens of all ages.

— Savannah Stevens, Duvall

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