Excessive force cannot be tolerated | Journal-news

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A case from Monongalia County reminds us that stories of police officers using excessive force and covering up their actions don’t just happen elsewhere, in very different places in West Virginia. If the allegations against a Monongalia County deputy sheriff are correct, it can happen here too.

Lance Kuretza is accused of disenfranchising an individual using excessive force and then writing a false report to cover up his actions. The two-count indictment was announced by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld for the Northern District of West Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Michael D. Nordwall of the FBI Field Office in Pittsburgh.

In its announcement, the Department of Justice reports that the indictment states that “while on duty, Kuretza subjected the victim to excessive force by punching and elbowing him in the face and, after the victim was handcuffed, pepper sprayed and punched. The offense resulted in bodily harm and included the use of a dangerous weapon. The indictment further alleges that Kuretza forged his use of force report claiming he used pepper spray before the victim was handcuffed and omitting any documentation of post-handcuffing force.

If he is guilty as a defendant, Kuretza should face all the consequences of his actions. Such a betrayal of public trust hurts more than one officer and victim. This harms the police as a whole.

News of the survey should serve as a reminder that where resources permit, police forces should be equipped with body cameras and on-board cameras; as well as the most thorough training possible not only to avoid such a situation to begin with, but also to spot – not cover – bad apples.

Those who do their job well and take their responsibility to serve and protect seriously must be determined to stop anyone behaving like Kuretza is accused of jeopardizing their reputation and relationship with the community.

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