Whenever a police officer falls in the line of duty, their sacrifice reawakens gratitude among those they protect.
There is no higher calling than putting one’s own life on the line in the service of the community, and when those slain are young, beloved and leave grieving family behind, the pain is felt even more acutely. Yarmouth Officer Sean Gannon, 32, was serving an arrest warrant on April 12 when a routine chore turned into an armed standoff culminating in his own death by gunshot wound to the head.
Tragedies such as this rightfully elicit deeply emotional responses, and in the heat of the moment, reason can sometimes be relegated to the back seat. Such is the case in the aftermath of Officer Gannon’s death.
Within days of the crime, the Massachusetts Republican Party tweeted its support for reinstatement of the death penalty as punishment for killing a police officer.
Massachusetts has not imposed the death penalty since 1947, and in 1984 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled a new death penalty law unconstitutional. Periodically, attempts occur in the Legislature to reinstate the death penalty, but thankfully they have gotten little traction.
Advocates of the death penalty argue that it is a deterrent, but many if not most murders are not plotted out, they occur in the heat of the moment.
On the other side of the argument are those who believe that punishment for crimes ought to be combined with sincere efforts at rehabilitation with the goal of enabling a miscreant to re-enter society and ultimately live a productive life.
Ultimately, the best course in a tragedy of this nature is to celebrate the exemplary service and personal character of the officer and mourn his loss and prosecute the alleged murderer to the fullest extent of the law.