More pain, and anger

It is the same, sad picture that has become all too familiar.

A long line of blue heading into the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Once again, the thin blue line is gathering today to bury one of their own.

But behind the sadness over the death of Highway Patrolman Patrick McDonald, there is a real, palpabale anger.

McDonald was the fifth city officer slain in the line of duty in just the past three years. A total of nine Philly police officers were shot in the last year.

That police are burying one of their own so soon after performing the same sad task is incredibly sad.

But there is anger as well, and it’s focused squarely on why the man who shot McDonald before being gunned down by other officers was on the street in the first place.

Daniel Giddings was a free man courtesy of the state Board of Probation and Parole. Giddings was 27. He had his first brush with the law at age 10. While behind bars, he racked up a dizzying series of violations.

Yet he was still approved for parole after serving 10 years of a 12-year sentence in connection with a violent carjacking.

His release prompted a protest yesterday by Philadelphia police, led by a clearly irate Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Mayor Michael Nutter. They demanded an end to such early releases.

Their howls of anger have been heard. And they’ve gotten action.

Yesterday former mayor and now Gov. Ed Rendell temporarily halted paroles for violent offenders and named a Temple University professor to lead a review of parole procedures.

It’s a good first step.

Daniel Giddings never should have been out on the street. He was doing time for a 1998 robbery and aggravated assault. On Aug. 18 he was released to a halfway house as part of his parole. It didn’t take him long to revert to his violent behavior. He fled the halfway house after a week and within a month had been involved in a confrontation with police. He was wanted on those charges when he was stopped by Officer McDonald.

Giddings had vowed he would not go to prison. After a chase and shootout, he stood over a wounded McDonald and executed the fallen officer, firing several more shots into him.

Daniel Giddings will never be eligible for parole again. He died in a subsequent shootout with police after killing Officer McDonald.

It won’t bring back the fallen officer. It will not ease the pain felt through the region today.

But the move to take another look at the way parole is granted in this state is the right call.

So that we never have to go through this horror again.


steve mcdonald said…
I stood outside for the funeral, just as I did for Officer Cassidy. This is an unnecessary trajedy that needs to be stopped immediately. Giddens should have never been a free man, his death doesn't matter now as we've already watched our worst fears come to life, yet again.

I thought it was a great gesture by Commissioner Ramsey & Mayor Nutter to poshumously promote Officer McDonald to the Rank of Sergeant - if there was any positive to take out of the day...