District Attorney honors law enforcement heroes

Guest Editorial

District Attorney honors law enforcement heroesKern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer was the keynote speaker at the annual Respect for Law dinner, held last Friday at the newly renovated Triple T’s. She gave the following address in recognition of the challenges facing those in public safety and criminal justice and the dedication of those who faces those challenges daily.

I am very honored to have been chosen as Kern County’s district attorney. This is the first time that I have had the pleasure of being in Ridgecrest since I took office in January as I had been engaged in a lengthy murder case that occurred in Rosamond many years ago.

I am very privileged to have the opportunity to speak at this wonderful event. Tonight we pay tribute to the men and women who risk their lives daily to ensure that we are all safe in our homes, at our jobs, or simply just walking down the street. The bravery and heroism that law enforcement officers display every day is incalculable.

While California’s elected officials in Sacramento have become increasingly anti-law enforcement and anti-crime victim and increasingly pro-criminal, we are all fortunate to live in Kern County where the majority of our citizens understand the difference between right and wrong, know that it is morally wrong to break the law and support law enforcement’s efforts to see that law breakers are brought to justice.

Police officers have very difficult jobs and face such danger every day. Police officer deaths in this country continue to rise at alarming rates. Last year in the United States, the most common cause of death to peace officers was not a traffic collision, but death by gunfire. Public safety is a dangerous job and can come at a very steep price.

California lost a number of law enforcement officers in the past year. Particularly heartbreaking was the murder of Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh, who was shot a few minutes after advising that he was pulling over a truck with no license plate. Corporal Singh was a native of Fiji and the father of a five-month-old son. Three people were arrested in Kern County who harbored Singh’s killer and who were trying to help the killer get over the border.

Another horrific murder was that of beloved 22-year-old Natalie Corona of the University of California at Davis Police Department who was killed after just a few weeks on the job. A beautiful young lady who had such a bright future in law enforcement. We grieved for her, for her family and for her fellow officers. And we heard some disturbing things about UC Davis.

I grew up in the small town of Coalinga. Its in the valley about 100 miles north of Bakersfield. I really wanted to go to college at UC Davis. But that wasn’t in the cards for me financially. I attended junior college and a state college close to home while working and borrowed the money to attend Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. I started work at the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in 1984 and worked very hard. I loved helping victims, but I also wanted a better life for my children.

While I never had the chance to attend UC Davis, my daughter did and graduated from Davis in 2014 with an engineering degree. I’m sure she didn’t tell me everything about life at Davis, but there were things she would say about her professors, including that they were very liberal.

But what came out in the public after Officer Corona’s murder, were comments made by UC Davis Professor Joshua Clover in 2014. Dr. Clover was a professor of English and comparative literature and well known in literary circles. Dr. Clover was fiercely anti-law enforcement and used social media to promote his agenda.

Professor Clover tweeted, “I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age. It is easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned.”

When confronted by angry law enforcement groups and members of the public demanding the termination of Professor Clover, UC Davis officials stated that while Clover’s statements did not reflect their institutional values, public statements like those made by Professor Clover are accorded a high level of protection under the 1st Amendment.

Officials stated that only groups outlined in Title IX and Title V are protected from threatening statements. Invectives against people based on national origin, race, sex and sexual orientation are not afforded the same leniency as a blanket threat against police officers. They stated that police officers are not members of a protected class. The university administration refused to speak about Clover’s threats against police, leaving him in good standing with the University.

When a college professor, entrusted to educate our youth, uses his position to encourage murder, the line between civilization and barbarity is shattered. Joshua Clover is a twisted man and has no place as an educator. I entrusted the University of California at Davis with that which is precious to me….my child. And they had her for four years. I want my money back.

Last week, the California Police Chiefs Association delivered petitions with 10,000 signatures to UC Davis’ Chancellor’s Office calling for the termination of Professor Joshua Clover. And I hope it is just the beginning of law enforcement and citizen groups putting UC Davis on the hot seat.

Law enforcement officers, hear this message loud and clear: The vast majority of the citizens of our great country, and especially in Kern County, respect you and honor you and are thankful for all that you do for us. We are here tonight to remind you that we will never take the service and sacrifice of law enforcement for granted. You are our heroes.

Story First Published: 2019-04-05