A Nazareth Borough Police Department Facebook post, since deleted, has caused quite a stir in Northampton County officialdom. Commissioner Randy Miller, who must be dumping Nazareth for the PC police, told The Express Times that the page is not really the "official" Facebook page, though it is, as evidenced by his ability to have the message removed. He made clear that he in no way endorses its dangerous message, and told The Morning Call it was the handiwork of a "rogue"cop. DA John Morganelli worries that the advisory encourages vigilantes to take the law into their own hands, though it in fact does the opposite.
Before I go further, let me share the portion of the now-deleted message found to be so offensive.
"We ask and encourage those of you who are responsible and educated enough to exercise your 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Providing you can and are legally able to possess a firearm and that you follow the Pennsylvania laws and local ordinances when doing so ... If when ever possible CALL 911 FIRST, if you believe you see someone or something suspicious. Do not engage and use Extreme Caution!"This post is a reaction to a homicide and carjacking in nearby Palmer Township. A week ago, Palmer Township resident Michael Davis was ambushed and shot in the face by two unknown assailants upon his return home from work at Verizon. The following night, Michael DeRose, who works at the very same Verizon as Davis, was ambushed as well and forced into the back of his car. He was able to escape.
These incidents appear to be related.
My only concern with this Facebook post is whether it was cleared with Palmer Tp investigators. They are tasked with the heavy responsibility of solving this murder and carjacking. I can see no reason why they'd object to a story that informs and educates the public That was the whole point of last week's news conference. They are seeking the public's help. Still, I'd ask them first since things can change fast and this is their case.
Other than that, there is nothing improper about the post. It at no time calls on anyone to be a cowboy. It specifically urges readers to "CALL 911 FIRST" and "[d]o not engage." It also states that its message only applies to persons who will follow the law.
If you are going to complain about people arming themselves, why does the concealed carry law exist at all? Why do we even have a Second Amendment?
Let me be clear. Most of my readers know that I support tighter gun laws. I believe that people who have exhibited violent tendencies, or who have fantasized about shooting people, should be denied gun permits. I also think a person who has a gun permit should be required to take periodic gun safety courses so he does not accidentally shoot himself. I also think they should be strongly encouraged to practice ...on a range. Because I'm a klutz, I'd never carry. But the right exists and should exist. This is far from vigilantism. It is the Constitution.
The Constitution trumps officials who worry about being politically correct. This may have served Randy Miller well over the years, at least until he came to Nazareth. Now, in addition to throwing a Nazareth police officer under the bus, he has misled the press about the Facebook page, claiming it is not a sanctioned page.
This statement is completely untrue.
The page was first established in 2009, by Michael Sinclair, when he was police chief. After he left, entries were made by Officer Peter Dewey. He left for Bushkill Township, and full-time officers with Nazareth police continued to update the page from time to time. In fact, it includes several stories featuring Miller himself.
If Miller is unfamiliar with Facebook, as he claims, he really needs to learn. It's actually a great investigative tool and is relied on by most police departments.
If Miller really wants to be politically correct, perhaps he should confront the racism that exists on Nazareth Borough Council. But they might not renew his contract.