Sheriff Adam Christianson must take a long, hard look at the 91 "findings" submitted by an independent group concerning the shooting deaths of deputy Robert Paris and locksmith Glendon Engert during an eviction April 12, 2012.
It will be painful. In many ways, the report is a devastating look at problems within the department. It points out a great many lapses within the Sheriff's Department. Undoubtedly, some will see those lapses as contributing to deaths of deputy Paris and Engert.
The report points out that deputy Paris sometimes took a casual approach to his work. His supervisor accompanied him on "50 or 60" evictions and noted "safety concerns" that additional training or direct orders to improve might have remedied. At the time of the shooting, Christianson described Paris as a close friend. Some will ask whether that relationship shielded him from reprimands.
Many will want to know why dire and specific warnings about the mental state of James Ferrario were discounted or ignored. Department staff noted Ferrario's weapons including an assault rifle and state of mind on the paperwork given to Paris, even circling them in red.
In the moments leading up to his death, Engert heard someone moving in the house and stopped his efforts to open the security door. Deputy Paris who had requested the afternoon off did not call off the eviction or reconsider his tactics. After waiting 30 seconds, Engert resumed. It was then that Ferrario opened fire.
The report notes conflict within the Court and Civil Services Department between deputies and higher-ranking officers. It points out that employees do not feel the department's procedures are safe. How much of that is hindsight is unknowable.
The report says some consider the Court and Civil Services Department a "dumping ground" for officers and a "retirement center." It is unlikely that anyone working in that environment could feel good about such a description.
It is commendable that the sheriff ordered this report and, eventually, shared it with the public. It is even more commendable that those who compiled it were so direct, so specific and so forthright. If any good can come from this tragedy, it will be that our law enforcement officers are better protected and better prepared to do their jobs.
Yes, Sheriff Christianson must look closely at this painful report, then he must look inward. It's not enough to say the department's procedures will be examined in light of this tragedy.
It's not enough to say we know where improvements must be made.
It's not enough to admit that morale has suffered and that he's trying to fix it.
It's not enough to say we have lost good friends to the horrors of an all-too-common American tragedy an unstable man armed to the hilt.
It is more than enough when a sworn officer and a civilian are killed doing their jobs.
This report is only the beginning of a larger conversation, not just about what happened April 12 but what happens going forward. It will require candor, compassion and accountability, and it will all be demanded on Sheriff Christianson's watch.