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Letters: Officer's death raises issues

Nassau County police officer James Wilson wipes away

Nassau County police officer James Wilson wipes away a tear as the casket of police officer Joseph P. Olivieri is carried into St. Joseph's R. C. Church in Ronkonkoma. (Oct. 22, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Regarding "What next to stop DWI?" [Editorial, Oct. 22], the death of Nassau highway patrolman Joseph Olivieri is about as tragic as it gets. Just 43 years old and a father. But to charge James Ryan with vehicular manslaughter in Olivieri's death is a miscarriage of justice.

Yes, Ryan allegedly was driving drunk and, yes, he allegedly left the scene of a first accident only to have a second accident. But his car did not strike and kill Olivieri; another vehicle did. But this is what goes with the territory of being a cop, of being on the road and always being in harm's way. Olivieri was killed responding to an accident, which was his job.

While the frustration and sadness associated with Olivieri's death make us want to find someone or something to blame, sometimes senseless death is just that -- senseless, and also blameless.

Charge Ryan with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene; throw the book at him. But do not make him the fall guy for this tragic accident.

Ted D. Gluckman, Rockville Centre

Improvements to vehicle safety such as seat belts, anti-lock brakes and air bags have added to the cost of a vehicle but have been well worth it. The time has come for the government to require that all new vehicles be equipped with ignition interlock devices that prevent a vehicle from starting when the driver is intoxicated.

Severe penalties could be put into place for anyone trying to disable the devices or outwit them by having a sober passenger switch places with an intoxicated driver.

I am willing to pay more for such a vehicle, knowing that it will improve my safety by keeping a drunken driver from injuring or killing me. Only those who routinely drink and drive would have an objection.

Charles Akalski Jr., West Babylon

The sudden loss of patrolman Joseph Olivieri is tragic. I am a Red Cross volunteer, and I have been at three funerals in the past few years for our fallen police officers. The funerals draw hundreds and sometimes thousands of police officers.

These tragic losses could be averted with the issuance of highly reflective vests or stripes on police officers' uniforms. Police officers exiting their patrol cars at night are very hard to see, with their dark blue uniforms.

Bruce Vesloski, Carle Place