OPINION | Barry Richard: Lenient Judicial System, Another Dead Cop
The Massachusetts Judicial System is under fire again after another career criminal is accused of killing a cop.
Just weeks after Yarmouth Police Sargent Sean Gannon was gunned down by a 29-year-old man with a rap sheet longer than your leg, Somerset County, Maine Sheriff's Cpl. Eugene Cole has met the same fate, allegedly at the hands of a man deemed to be even more dangerous than the man charged with Gannon's murder.
The suspects have something in common: they were on the streets courtesy of the Massachusetts judicial system.
Thomas Latanowich of Somerville, charged with shooting Sargent Gannon, had at least 125 charges against him in his 29 years, including illegal possession of guns, violent abuse of a domestic partner, multiple charges of assault and battery, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and witness intimidation. He was free on probation after serving just four years in jail.
Daniel Williams of Madison, Maine, also 29, is accused of shooting Cpl. Cole early yesterday morning before stealing the officer's marked cruiser and robbing a convenience store. The Boston Herald says Williams was arrested by Massachusetts State Police in Haverhill in the wee hours of March 22. Police found an illegal handgun, ammo and a large capacity magazine in the trunk of his car, as well as several bags of what police suspect were drugs.
The Herald says Williams' criminal record also includes convictions and criminal charges--and at least one drug overdose--in Maine and Tennessee, dating back to 2006. Williams was released on $5,000 cash bail following his arraignment in Haverhill District Court in March. He remains on the loose as of this writing.
The Massachusetts Criminal Justice System is broken. There is a revolving door on the courthouses that allow dangerous criminals to come and go with little or no punishment for their crimes.
Members of the area legislative delegation are calling for an oversight hearing on Beacon Hill to address the problem. I suspect it will be nothing more than a show to try and convince voters that something is being done.
The time has come to make judges accountable for their decisions. Elected judges who face the voters every two years are more likely to be tough on crime, and can be held accountable for bad decisions.
It's time we consider electing rather than appointing our judiciary.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.