By TOM HONIG
The tragedy of last week's shooting of two Santa Cruz police officers has resulted in an unprecedented level of community support, emotional outpouring and media coverage, but one aspect of the episode has gone unnoticed: the superior performance of local law enforcement that prevented the violence from escalating further.
The professionalism of the Santa Cruz Police Department and the other agencies involved -- the Sheriff's Office, the Highway Patrol, the Fire Department and others -- kept the situation from degenerating into an even bigger tragedy.
The man responsible, Jeremy Goulet, shot officers Butch Baker and Elizabeth Butler, but he was intent upon taking out additional people -- other officers and innocent passersby. He had stolen not only some police weapons, but also one of the officers' protectivc vests. He wanted to make a last stand. He was a mass slayer in the making.
Local police officiers put a stop to it without more violence. They did it thanks to a tactical response by cooperating law enforcement agencies. They did it thanks to a high level of training, work that goes unnoticed by the general public. They did it despite the emotion that must have been bubbling up inside them, knowing that two of their own had fallen. Mourning could come later. They had a job to do --- and they did it.
Goulet was on the move after the shooting. He had driven around town and was perhaps headed back to a location where he could have made a stand -- taking aim at more people. The SCPD and SCSO stopped him. And they did so without any more casualties.
The community already knows this: our law enforcement officers do a great job -- day in and day out -- of serving those of us who live here. But most of us don't realize the level of professionalism that they can call on when the worst happens.
The wounds to the Santa Cruz community are real. The wounds to local law enforcement are severe and won't be overcome anytime soon. But the biggest tribute to the memory of Officers Baker and Butler is that they were part of a law enforcement community that responded with professionalism, bravery and competence. There is no greater tribute.