For Marylanders, the execution-style killings of two New York City police officers on Saturday in Brooklyn was horrifying and despicable, but the possibility that the shooter had a local connection — Ismaaiyl Brinsley had allegedly shot a woman in Owings Mills before killing officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn — made it all the more personal and disturbing.

We don't yet know the gunman's exact motivations, and frankly, it's not of any great interest to probe the deceased mind of a career criminal who killed himself not long after firing four shots into a parked police car in order to uncover whatever delusions he might have offered to justify his inexcusable actions. He was as violent thug who had been arrested 20 times, a loner estranged from his family with no fixed address with possible suicidal tendencies who happened to own a 9-millimeter handgun.

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We condemn the murders and grieve for the officers and their families — as have so many others from President Barack Obama, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake who held a news conference with police union leaders to display the unanimity of that view. Add to that inventory of outrage quite a number of civil rights leaders who had been protesting police brutality and the handling of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown days if not hours earlier. As Carmen Perez of Justice League NYC told the New York Times over the weekend, "We can mourn Eric Garner and the two officers. It's OK to do that."

No politician or protest caused these tragic deaths, and to blame either does a great disservice to Messrs. Liu and Ramos, both veteran police officers, by excusing the actual perpetrator or suggesting that support for the police is an all-or-nothing choice. When former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani goes on national television as he did Sunday and lays blame for the killings on "four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police," not only does he inaccurately describe the point of recent protests but he implies that all criticism of law enforcement is dangerous and should be forbidden.

Of course, he's not alone, as certain police union leaders and the usual talk-radio crowd have made it sound like New York's mayor had invited the tragedy. His "crimes" have included daring to talk to the Rev. Al Sharpton and expressing personal understanding of the historical concerns of African-Americans to police by mentioning his own son and opposing "stop and frisk" tactics by police generally. That Mr. de Blasio has also praised his police department, repeatedly, in recent days is seldom mentioned by such critics.

In reality, most reasonable people can see both sides of this problem and don't need such needlessly inflammatory rhetoric to cloud the view. Police officers deserve the public's support. That some officers may feel targeted right now after such a high-profile incident is understandable, and taking reasonable additional precautions is sensible. Yet it's also clear that there are legitimate reasons why many in the black community distrust the police, whether in New York, Baltimore or other cities. Policing the police — ensuring that justice is served whether laws are broken by civilians or those who carry a badge — is appropriate, and to hold any other position would be to wrongly equate police with a gang that just happens to wear matching blue uniforms.

Some of the most sensible words we've heard so far regarding this tragedy have come from New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton who said Monday that the shooting was "something that should be bringing us together not taking us apart." We agree. It's time to ignore those who seek to introduce partisanship, Obama-bashing or union politics in a matter that, not unlike 9/11, represents an opportunity for unity and resolve, not for squelching dissent or free speech. We mourn for the loss of these two officers, but the debt we owe them is not to turn our backs on the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law but to find common ground between police officers in New York, Baltimore and elsewhere and the communities they serve.

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