Kansas City, Kan., police detective Brad Lancaster made the ultimate sacrifice Monday while protecting this community.
Lancaster was shot and killed by a person who should not have had a gun in his hands.
The detective, who was 39, leaves behind a wife and two daughters.
Lancaster was an Air Force veteran who worked for the Platte County Sheriff’s office and at the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department for the last nine years.
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The suspect — mentioned by name only once in this editorial as Curtis Ayers — has been in trouble with the law for years.
He has been prosecuted for a string of criminal behavior, including domestic battery, child abandonment, fleeing police and making a terroristic threat. He had been released on parole just four months ago from the Kansas Department of Corrections.
After Lancaster was shot, the suspect used a gun to commandeer other vehicles, scared citizens out of their wits and, eventually, shot and injured a woman on a highway.
Moments after that last incident, the suspect was captured after being shot by a Kansas City Police Department officer who — coincidentally — had been on that city’s force for nine years, the same amount of time Lancaster was on the job in Kansas City, Kan.
The Kansas City officer deserves the community’s thanks in preventing even further mayhem at the hands of the armed suspect.
Lancaster’s death will lead to more charges and more prison time for a violent criminal.
But none of that will bring Lancaster back to enjoy the rest of his life with his family.
His death has sparked a range of emotional reactions across the Kansas City area, most notably grief at the loss of a public servant.
We should be thankful that thousands of police officers go to work every day with the noble intention of helping the people who largely put their trust in the law enforcement community.
In recent years legitimate concerns have been raised about police shootings of civilians — too many of them unarmed and too many of them African-American.
But Lancaster’s death is a sobering reminder to all of us that the overwhelming number of officers in the Kansas City area go to work for the right reasons. They want to create safer communities for the people who live here.
The officers’ work, though, can come at a cost that the public can’t readily see.
Shortly after one of his officers shot the suspect Monday afternoon, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté said on Twitter “.@kcpolice investigating PO involved shooting Bannister & 71 hwy. Suspect crashed. Officer not physically injured.”
Shooting at another human being should never become a regular, expected occurrence in a civilized society.
And yet, this region suffers far too many deaths and injuries caused by guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
They include criminals like the suspect, of course, but also far too many citizens who don’t know how to use firearms and others who won’t properly lock up their guns so they are harder to steal.
This area and this country are awash in firearms for many reasons.
America’s gun manufacturers have shown they will do anything to pump up their sales to make a profit.
The National Rifle Association and other gun lovers have twisted the Second Amendment into an excuse for arming far too many people.
And lawmakers in Kansas and Missouri are recklessly making it even easier to carry loaded weapons, with no training, almost anyplace and anytime.
If there is any solace in the death of a local police officer — any solace at all — it is that we have not seen one killed in the line of duty in this region since 2001. (A Riverside officer was struck by lightning in 2011 while on tornado disaster response duty in Joplin, Mo.)
Yet that statement of fact misses the point that officers can be shot, beaten or otherwise injured while doing a job that so few in our society are qualified to do.
Or would do.
Police officers every day deal responsibly with people who are speeding, trespassing or taking part in other nonviolent acts.
But these officers also handle far more dangerous situations involving hardened criminals who have no concern for the lives of others.
Detective Brad Lancaster encountered one of those individuals on Monday. Because of that, he will not return to his family. He will never work again with his fellow officers.
But he should always be remembered for the price he paid as a public servant of this community.