I am a 40-year veteran of a professional fire department who has spent the last 25 years as a fire captain. About halfway into my career, I noticed a philosophical shift from saving lives and protecting property of the public to being concerned with the safety of those tasked with protecting the public — or, as I say, the people who pay the bills.
I believe this is just one component of the complex issue of mass shootings. I first noticed this during the 1999 Columbine school shooting, when the responding police set up a very secure perimeter outside the school while the shooters continued killing kids.
I saw it again with the Orlando nightclub shooting, where the police again set up a secure perimeter, and it was three hours before SWAT teams breached the club and killed the shooter.
I believe government agencies’ administrators and risk managers set the rules of engagement based on minimizing the cost to their entities in terms of of injured employees — forgetting for whom they actually work.
Being a police officer, firefighter or first responder is an inherently dangerous job, but as a firefighter, I am provided with fire- and heat-resistant gear, as well as an air pack. The police are provided with body armor and weapons.
The priority has to be on the survival of the unprotected civilians versus my own. These folks pay for our protection, and they deserve better.
John W. Underwood
Plaza III memories
The announcement of Plaza III’s closing was very sad news to my family. (Feb. 22, 12A, “Iconic Plaza steakhouse closing after more than five decades”)
My wife and I first visited the restaurant on Valentine’s Day 1988, and we have had many wonderful events there since. From annual Christmas get-togethers with old friends to graduations, my 50th birthday celebration last summer and many other special moments, we have never been disappointed at Plaza III.
The food and ambiance are elegant, but the people make Plaza III excel. We want to thank all the great staff — Caroline, Manny, Dennis, Anna, David, Pamela, Kerry, Danielle and all the others — for making us feel like family over the last 30 years.
We wish you all the best in your new ventures, and we will drink a glass of King Estate with you March 10 as we say farewell to a Kansas City landmark.
Clean it up
The Kansas City area has a massive litter problem. Every ditch, median, fence line, bridge underpass and empty lot is full of trash.
It’s embarrassing and frustrating to see how people treat our highways. Bags of trash get thrown to the shoulder, only to break apart and scatter for miles.
Occasionally I see crews picking up trash, but it’s not nearly as often as it should be. However, the Community Improvement District public maintenance ambassadors who keep downtown Kansas City clean should be applauded. They do a great job. Can’t this be expanded to other areas?
A smart solution has been started in Fort Worth, Albuquerque and elsewhere. It’s called Clean Slate and pays homeless people to clean up the streets. I encourage the powers that be around our city to implement something like this.
Please research it and take action, because it’s urgently needed.
I don’t understand the Harrisonville School District’s refusal to say Gabi Keil’s name at graduation. (Feb. 28, 1A, “Suicide victim’s family wants to hear her name”) But I have a suggestion: Her classmates could say her name as they receive their diplomas.
Family in need
Similar to Syed Jamal, Crecensio Mendez-Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant living in Kansas City, Kan., has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was complying with everything ICE asked him to do, and his work permit is valid through December 2018.
Despite this, he was detained at his yearly check-in Feb. 7, without any notice to him or his family. This is very different from how these cases have been handled in the past. Although it was always a possibility to be asked to leave at the check-in, there generally was some notice to family members so they could prepare.
His lawyer has filed an appeal, because the initial legal filings were denied. Crecensio is likely to be detained for many weeks, and meanwhile the family has dire needs. It includes four children, one of whom has juvenile arthritis and needs specialized treatment at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
ICE could release him back to his previous status but refuses to do so, separating this family and costing taxpayers significant amounts of money. We are asking that he be released while the court case is pending.