From September 2000 to November 2006, I was a proud member of the Juneau Police Department, serving as a captain and briefly as the assistant chief of police until my retirement. Having more than 36 years of law enforcement experience, I believe I speak with a full understanding of what is required for an officer to use deadly force.
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I knew and worked with Sgt. Paul Hatch during my time with the department. I found him to be an exceptionally intelligent, hard working, professional police officer. He had my complete confidence in every assignment given him. His combination of good common sense, extensive training and a true commitment to the citizens of Juneau was always evident.
I believe the sergeant correctly applied that training and experience when he was forced by Randall Clevenger to use deadly force to defend himself. During my many years in law enforcement, I saw a number of situations in which an officer was required to use a firearm. The situation Hatch found himself in is one of the clearest and most dangerous I can recall.
He gave the individual every opportunity to peaceably resolve his issues. The only other option the sergeant had was to refrain from defending himself and most likely suffer serious if not fatal injury at the hands of a violent man. I commend his restraint in waiting as long as he did.
The people of Juneau should be proud that members of their police department fairly and correctly enforce the law, many times placing themselves in peril to do so. While I regret that the officer was forced to take a life, it was only at the last possible second that he reacted as he did. I believe he went far beyond his lawful requirement in giving Clevenger every chance to live.
Again, I commend Hatch for doing what is the hardest and most painful action that may be required of any law enforcement officer. He deserves the complete support of the community.
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