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Editorial: The healing process on Father’s Day

Sunday is Father's Day, and for one young father, it will arrive with mixed blessings.

Daniel Harmon-Wright, the 32-year-old Culpeper policeman who fatally shot Patricia A. Cook on Feb. 9 was released Friday on a $100,000 bond.

Since May 29, the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center has been his place of residence.

He will be able to spend Father's Day with his nine-month old son – a son for whom he would no doubt like to be a role model.

He is scheduled to return to Culpeper County Circuit Court in July where his attorney will ask for a change of venue.

Since that fateful day in February, between media hype and community angst, that in some circles verges on hysteria, it would be challenging to find unbiased jurors.

Most have formed an opinion one way or the other about what happened or didn't happen on that morning on North East Street.

One thing is certain. A 54-year-old woman died as a result of shots fired from Harmon-Wright's weapon. It will be up to a jury to decide whether that shooting was justified in the eyes of Virginia law.

The outcome rests with the jury to determine the guilt or innocence for Harmon-Wright and subsequent consequences.

Town Police Chief Chris Jenkins is doing an admirable job keeping things together at the police department.

Whether he's got an officer who has potentially gone bad or an officer who will be vindicated is a drama yet to unfold, but in the meantime, Jenkins has heard from a number of Culpeper's silent majority that he and the department have their confidence and moral support.

Jenkins is a professional law enforcer and he has seen a lot in his more than three decades of service to Culpeper.

But he hasn't experienced this. It's new territory. There are no answer books or reference materials to help navigate the perilous waters of perhaps a wrongful death caused by one of your own.

Town council members and the town manager have extended their vote of confidence to Jenkins and the department, as well. While they are saddened and troubled by the circumstances, they, like Jenkins, are remaining optimistic that the legal process, while not always expedient, will ultimately be effective and just.

Many of us grew up with the notion that certain professions are sacrosanct. Priests, presidents, pediatricians and policemen are to be trusted and respected. They have a high calling, and it is beyond their ability to cause grief or do harm.

Perhaps those were simpler times. Perhaps too naïve as now no one is beyond scrutiny.

Perhaps we've grown colder and harsher in the grim face of reality – a reality that leaves everyone open to vulnerabilities and disappointments. Many professions now are not only open targets for ridicule and mistrust, but it is now also automatically assumed that transparency will be an issue.

That is very sad.

The Culpeper community is well served by its law enforcement team. County, town and state officers and deputies work collaboratively to protect and keep safe a quality of life that has contributed to the county's growth over the decades.

Culpeper is in the spotlight now. It has attracted national attention because of this tragic incident. However it is critical to keep things in perspective and to know that the good here far outweighs the bad.

In the end, this caring community will heal and celebrate its strength.
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