I read Bill Richardson’s viewpoint with interest — particularly because he speaks from a paternalistic viewpoint, being a cop himself. Nonetheless my knee-jerk reaction to his letter was: How in the world does it matter what kind of *person* Officer Stewart Ferrin was?
As a layperson who watched the public video with alarm, the question of what Ferrin was as a child was about the last one on my mind. Instead,my first thought was (rightly or wrongly) — what kind of policeman arrests a person for jaywalking? Indeed, *all* the viewpoints I read thereafter expressed support for either Ore or Ferrin; not one wondered about the personality of either.
Richardson should understand that there’s a difference between a cop’s public, professional face and his private one — which Richardson has taken pains to show us. As a cop himself, Richardson should understand that a cop is judged quickly and harshly by the public (rightly or not), based on a single act; this kind of judgement is an unavoidable “professional hazard” of policing. When Ore got pulled over for jaywalking, did the fact that she (presumably) wrote poetry as a child, and was very “into” literature come to her defence? Richardson seems to blithely advance the same kind of position in his favor.
Also, the fact that the Provost expressed his support for Professor Ore is but natural, the same way as Richardson expresses *his* support of his own professional brethren. The Provost, no matter how well trained in science, is but a human being in the final analysis — just like Richardson. Finally, the fact that he would prefer to leave his child with Ferrin, rather than Ore is little more than his own opinion; for the record, I’d prefer exactly the reverse.