Canton police officer who threatened to execute concealed carry licensee should be fired

by Gerard Valentino

The Canton Repository reported recently that notorious Canton Police Officer Daniel Harless, who was caught on his own police dash cam video verbally assaulting a concealed carry license holder, was a no-show at his latest disciplinary hearing. So, despite berating an honest citizen for lacking responsibility, when faced with taking responsibility for his own actions, Officer Harless chose to be cowardly and hide.

Officer Harless claims to be mentally disabled and unable to help with his own defense. Yet, the Canton Police Department deemed him well enough to testify at a recent murder trial. So, he either testified at a murder trial despite a serious mental issue, or he is exploiting the idea of being mentally ill for his own gain.

Neither option reflects well on Harless, or the people advising him.

Part of the pact between citizens and law enforcement is the belief that the rule of law matters in a civilized society. Just as important is the notion that law enforcement is restrained at all times by the limits determined by the People. Therefore, it is never acceptable for a police officer to step over the line crossed by Officer Harless, who clearly believes he is above the law.

Otherwise, he would have testified at his disciplinary hearing, just as he testified at the murder trial.

The Canton Police Department and Officer Harless can't have it both ways. They can't expect the public to believe he is suffering from mental illness, making him unable to help with his own defense, and is still competent to testify at a trial that might put someone in prison for life.

Clearly, the Canton Police Department and Officer Harless are trying to push an illogical argument on us, and we saw how Officer Harless treated law-abiding citizens when faced with an explanation he deemed to be illogical.

Even a criminal doesn't deserve to be treated in the way Officer Harless treated the concealed carry license holder in question -- just as a citizen doesn't have the right to verbally abuse a law enforcement officer. We can only imagine Officer Harless' reaction if anyone berated him the way he treats honest citizens.

Every citizen and every law enforcement officer should be treated with the respect demanded in a free country. So, when either side chooses to act in an abusive manner, it tears at the very fabric of society. It also strains the relationship between the people and law enforcement, which is a binding agent to society as a whole.

That means that nothing short of dismissing Officer Harless is acceptable from a citizen's perspective. This wasn't a one-time incident. He was caught on video verbally abusing a citizen at least three times. In at least two of the incidents, he not only used profanity, but threatened to execute a detained and handcuffed citizen. Officer Harless, through his own actions, showed he believes his role as a police officer places him above the law. This, in turn, proves he is unfit for duty. So, we can only hope that Canton Safety Director Thomas Ream will do the right thing and fire Harless for his abusive behavior.

To do anything else condones what Officer Harless did and gives a green-light to all Canton Police Officers to act in the same reprehensible manner.

Gerard Valentino, a former military intelligence analyst, is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and the author of "The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative," available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store.

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