Comment: We can’t ignore what led to Everett officer’s homicide

By Brett Gailey / For The Herald

I am grieving. On April 4 a memorial was held for fallen Everett Police Officer Dan Rocha.

I attended this memorial as Dan was a one-time colleague of mine and to honor the death of a law enforcement officer who gave his life in the service of our community.

Dan’s violent homicide continues to make me believe the public safety environment in this state is broken.

Dan was allegedly murdered by a multiple-time violent felon known for selling drugs and guns. This felon was in a Starbucks parking lot during the middle of the day, transferring firearms from one vehicle to another. He was carrying a firearm at the time he was approached by Officer Rocha. After attempting to place this suspect into custody to investigate an outstanding warrant, he shot Dan multiple times and then ran over him as he left the Starbucks parking lot.

We have a problem in this state when a multiple-time violent felon feels comfortable carrying a gun. We have a problem when this felon feels completely safe to — in broad daylight — in a busy parking lot, be in possession of and transfer firearms from one vehicle to another. We have a problem when a violent felon thinks he can shoot a police officer and flee.

We need change. We need to hold those accountable who wish to endanger our community through violence. We need to enact actual meaningful gun safety laws such as mandatory prosecution and sentences for violent felons who choose to possess firearms. We need to adequately fund our prosecutorial and judicial systems and find the breakdowns that allow violent felons to have no fear of those systems.

I am participating in a work group of Snohomish County mayors to investigate these issues, which led to Dan’s murder. We will find answers and put them into action in the next year. I personally will ensure they are a topic during the next state legislative season.

We must take back the safety of our communities, the safety of our police and fire personnel who serve, and ensure the death of Officer Rocha is not forgotten. We need to see this as a call to action, and I hope that you will join me.

Brett Gailey is a retired police officer with the Everett Police Department, and currently serves as Mayor of Lake Stevens. These are his personal words and do not represent an official position of the city or its elected city council members.