(The below letter has been sent to Sheriff Boyer and has been reprinted here for transparency in reference to http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/localheroes/story/4CBF361CCA9F41328625762D0054CCCE?OpenDocument )
I have recently been forwarded your response to the lady who raised complaints about obvious mistreatment by bikers and mismanagement of traffic by law enforcement during the procession for Sergeant Woods. While I understand where your heart is and agree that this is a sensitive situation, your response was unprofessional and unbecoming of an officer of the law, let alone a leader of such officers. In the citizen's complaint, very real concerns were raised about inappropriate conduct, confrontation, and verbal assault toward the client while she was obeying traffic laws. She was stopped and berated by two grown men who at least were guilty of impeding traffic and criminal mischief, at most impersonating police officers. She also raised valid concerns about mistakes made in the enforcement, flow, and timing of traffic. While we all understand that the sergeant did not choose to die, it was not necessary for his procession to be held in such a manner at such a time and basic common sense should overrule illogical emotions when it comes to such a large-scale procession.
Your response not only failed to address any of the citizen's concerns, it belittled the citizen, insulted her and continued the pattern of hostility and unprofessionalism started by the bikers who screamed in the citizen's windows. You blatantly refused to apologize for her valid concerns then went into a monologue of the life of the soldier. Again, while this is heartfelt and heartwarming, it has no place in a professional response to a citizen's complaint and had no relevance to the issues you were presented with. Your rant about carrying heavy bags in high heat was out of place as we have a volunteer force and the sergeant was not forced into these conditions. Your recollection of your (and one of the bikers') return from Vietnam had no relevance either, as it doesn't seem that the citizen was one of those spitting on you. Finally, you sign off with your "personal opinion." Of course you're allowed having personal opinions, but you need to keep them to yourself until your badge is off and you're not representing the leadership of your department.
The citizen's complaint should have been taken seriously and your response was disgraceful. While many ordinary Americans are waving their flags tonight and toasting you for your actions, you have ridiculed the very freedom that you claim the troops are fighting for. The mentality of those supporting you is a "blind patriotism" that has no basis in rational thought, true love of country and freedom, and respect for one another. If they had any of these, they would be sending you a letter just like this, reminding you that your job is to respond professionally to the citizens you are bound to serve. I hope that this serves as a reminder that patriotism isn't "supporting the war" or "unquestioningly loving your country," but rather a constant struggle to ensure that those in positions of authority and power live by the principles of a free and just society at all times, even when failing to do so may be more popular or politically expedient.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Alan E. Pugh