I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those impacted by the most recent shootings across this country.  These troubling actions are casting a dark shadow over our American justice system. 

Notwithstanding this madness in America that has many questioning our system of justice, my message today is one of hope and encouragement.

I am encouraged because in my twenty-five years as a prosecutor, two things remain crystal clear for me:  I believe in America and I believe in justice for everyone. 

I have come to cherish the rule of law, even when it moves slowly or arrives at a result with which I might disagree.  We are a nation founded on the principle that we, the people, will govern ourselves.  Despite imperfections, our American system of justice remains our best hope for defending freedom, resolving disputes, and securing justice. 

As a prosecutor, it has been my responsibility to protect the integrity of our justice system.  It has been my responsibility, like that of every fellow prosecutor, that no matter who you are, no matter the color of your skin, or your station in life, if you are a victim of crime, I will seek justice for you.  Likewise, if you commit a crime, no matter who you are, no matter the color of your skin, or your station in life, I will seek to hold you accountable for your conduct.  This is especially true if you tarnish the badge worn by our brave heroes who take a vow to protect and serve our communities.

While there are occasions where police conduct is questionable and others where that conduct is proven to be criminal, police officers have chosen a career of personal sacrifice and service to others. Daily, they face grave danger.  We owe these officers our respect, support, and gratitude for their ongoing service. Our civil society is dependent on well-trained police officers placing themselves between us and those who wish to do us harm. 

Over the past few days, incidents in Dallas, Louisiana and Minnesota have caused many Americans to have reason to doubt our justice system. As tensions rise between many in the community and our public servants, we must allow justice the opportunity to work. Justice requires a process of investigation that often takes time, and we must not fall victim of knee-jerk reactions to what we read on social media. Most importantly, we can never tolerate the targeted murder of police officers as a valid response to questions, doubts, or even outright disdain for our justice system.

In the face of these doubts and horrific events that continue to unfold, we cannot ignore the featured role that race plays in the equation. Race and justice, or as it may be observed from a different perspective: racial injustice, is older than the founding of our nation and it has left a deep and scarred legacy to America’s story of freedom. 

Regrettably, not that long ago, ordinary justice was routinely denied to many: particularly to black Americans.  Despite many advances in American Justice, a common feeling of mistrust of police among many black Americans still exists to this day. In order for us to move forward as a nation, we must acknowledge the legitimacy of this well-earned mistrust.  Fortunately, historic incidents of injustice by law enforcement have largely given way to verifiable efforts by police officers to properly protect and serve all citizens with respect and dignity. 

Much is made of police action shootings involving white police officers and black shooting victims. The reality is that over 95% percent of black shooting victims in America are a result of blacks shooting blacks. This is a situation that is also horribly tragic and must be equally addressed.

Some Americans may have doubts about our criminal justice system.  In the face of these doubts, we have a choice. We can choose to ignore the root problems. We can choose to undermine or reject the entire justice system. We can simply accept when some evil actors turn to targeted acts of murder as a response. However, none of these options, especially the violence, will be our path forward. 

I will continue to embrace the rule of law and ensure that it is applied equally to all. I urge everyone to follow my lead down the path of trusting the justice system.  It is the great equalizer for all people.  Engage the justice system. Understand the issues behind these acts. Work to improve American justice while honoring those who protect and serve our communities.  We must all fight for justice.

Join me as I seek to promote respect for the rule of law, to facilitate understanding between people with different backgrounds, and to support strong communities, which will build our future.  For those of you who share this vision, I encourage you to believe in America and to have faith in our justice system and its ability to defend our freedom and secure our future.

Published in Fort Wayne - The Journal Gazette