Editorial: Thanks–now let’s finish the job

That might have been the longest four days in Boston’s history.

Yet, what a short time for authorities to identify two bombing suspects, neutralize one and arrest another.

Thank you all of the police agencies whose grinding hard work made us all feel safer, especially the FBI, the State Police and the Boston Police Department.

This was not just responding to a crime wave. It was walking right into a guerrilla war. Exhaustion, emotional trauma, the daunting scale of the crimes, and insane terrorists who clearly craved killing them–none of that gave our local law enforcement professionals any pause. They managed to contain the suspect to one unfortunate town, sparing the rest of us in Mission Hill and elsewhere the gunfire and explosions we saw in Watertown and Cambridge.

Two officers in some of law enforcement’s most thankless areas–college campus policing and the T police–paid dearly for stepping into the line of fire. One was killed and one severely wounded by the terrorists on the run. There is no adequate way of thanking them.

Now let’s finish the job of actually proving the case and suitably punishing the guilty.

Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hasn’t been convicted of anything, despite what the local TV news blowhards kept irresponsibly saying. He’s likely to be charged with many crimes. He might in fact be guilty of all of them, or only some of them, or, though it’s unlikely given the circumstances, none of them. We still can’t be certain how many people were involved in this horrible scheme.

Indeed, we’re likely to get more information and more justice precisely because our system isn’t about blithely declaring people guilty. Our law enforcement officers put themselves at vastly greater personal risk so they could get their man alive. Why? So they can question him and make him face the surviving victims in court. Think about that. Truth and justice mattered more to those officers than their own lives.

There is no sufficient way to say thanks for that kind of bravery and idealism. This isn’t about some sentimental form of hero-worship. It’s about how well our system works when we have officers with the grit and determination to do it the right way, which is to say, the hard way. We’re proud of them.

We have great faith in the police agencies that have taken us this far this fast. The best way to provide justice for the victims and honor law enforcement’s hard work is to air the evidence, close the deal in a public trial, and drop a properly weighted hammer on the guilty.

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