To The Editor:

Your newspaper recently reported that about seventy-five local people protested the death of George Floyd. Good for them.

As you know, I have some experience in law enforcement in our county. Over the years I have served as Acting Prosecutor and Assistant Prosecutor in the Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, and Common Pleas Court. I served for six years as the Common Pleas judge. Not long ago I participated successfully as defense counsel in a highly visible misdemeanor case.

During that time I have known our local law enforcement officers to be highly professional men and women. They understood that once a suspect is in custody, they have a duty to protect him, not to kill him. When a suspect is handcuffed behind his back, he is under control. Then place him in the back seat of the cruiser promptly and leave the scene. Instead, the despicable actions of those four so-called policemen brought shame upon the entire law enforcement profession.

The protestors appeared to be mostly young people. That is encouraging. They could move beyond protest to advocate actual change. They may wish to start with outlawing chokeholds as police control technique. Are chokeholds necessary? Can the municipal councils in Jackson, Wellston, and Oak Hill prohibit chokeholds in their jurisdictions by ordinance? Can the County Commissioners pass a resolution banning chokeholds? Can the state legislature? Show up and ask.

In my view, public officials up and down the line and all across the country have a lot of explaining to do.

Sincerely -- William C. Martin