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Deputy is domestic violence’s collateral damage

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Dec. 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
December 29, 2009 5:14 pm

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

It was the kind of call that law enforcement officers dread, but it is sadly all too common: a domestic.

One family member is hurting or threatening another, and someone calls 911. Emotions are running high, and alcohol or drugs may be involved. One or more of the parties may be armed.

Every call is a step into the unknown for those who respond.

Four days before Christmas, Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Kent Mundell and Sgt. Nick Hausner experienced every law enforcement officer’s nightmare: a domestic call turned very, very bad. They were trying to escort a “drunk and belligerent” man with a history of domestic violence from a family member’s home when he pulled out a gun and began shooting.

Hausner is fortunate to have survived. But Mundell – who managed to kill the attacker – died Monday, becoming the fifth Pierce County sheriff’s deputy to be killed in the line of duty.

For South Sound law enforcement and the greater community it serves, Mundell’s senseless killing was a numbing body blow, coming all too soon after the Nov. 29 murders of four Lakewood police officers in a Parkland coffee shop and the Halloween shooting death of Seattle Officer Timothy Brenton.

Mundell’s death is yet another grim reminder of the price society pays when family violence, substance abuse and the easy availability of guns combine in a lethal cocktail. Usually the victims are immediate family members, but in many cases the violence explodes, and even those trying to help are engulfed by its fury.

Mundell’s death provides more impetus for an initiative announced by Gov. Chris Gregoire after the Lakewood officers’ murders. She wants law enforcement groups to recommend potential changes in state law, policies or the constitution that would enhance officer safety.

Mundell leaves behind a wife and two children, ages 10 and 16. It may be some small comfort to his loved ones to know that their grief and bewilderment are shared by an entire community.

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