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Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, 1968-2008

Philadelphia has lost one of its finest: a father, a husband, a native son:

"Basically we lost another good officer," said John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police. "He's a hero. He gave his life fighting for what he believed in, which was protecting the citizens of this city."
"Yesterday, police closed off the quiet, tree-lined block of Claridge Street in the Northeast, where the Liczbinski family lives, to give the family some peace.
A neighbor, Michael Cosgrove, said one of his fondest memories of Liczbinski was, when he would come home from work, his daughter, Amber, would run up and give him a hug.

When it comes to crime, the bottom line is this. The so-called "conservative" voices are right. There is something wrong in the culture of this this city when people -- if these heartless thugs can be called that at this point -- have such little respect for the life of a little girl's dad that they will gun him down in cold blood...for what? Sgt. Liczbinski's murder is no isolated incident, but the third killing of an on-duty cop in just two years after a decade in which none were killed. Something has gone horribly off-kilter here.

And yet the so-called "liberal" voices are right, too. There is also something very seriously wrong with the culture of this state when people can possess a high-powered Chinese SKS assault rifle, a still-legal weapon that has about as much to do with Pennsylvania's beloved sport of deer hunting as a hand grenade has to do with horseshoes. And yet lawmakers from the state's relatively placid countryside continue to impose their outdated and inadequate gun laws on a city where the deer are few -- but the killing of human beings is plentiful.

There's only one way it ends. The vast majority of decent citizens of this city and this state come together and do it all -- better community values but also better gun laws, more cops on the street but also more jobs in the worst neighborhoods. It's a tall order -- it takes courage and money and time, all things that seem to be in short supply at time around here.

But Stephen Liczbinski's three children, and their generation, deserve nothing less from us.