ON DEC. 9, 1981, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was executed on the streets by a thug named Wesley Cook, now infamously way better known as Mumia Abu-Jamal.

After a long trial and overwhelming physical and testimonial evidence, Cook was justifiably and legally sentenced to death.

But 27 years later, this case is still pending in the judicial system, and, just over a month ago, Cook was granted a new sentencing hearing.

The late criminologist Dr. Marvin Wolfgang of the University of Pennsylvania posited that in order for the criminal justice system to work as a deterrence, punishment must be "swift, certain and sure."

But as so aptly illustrated with the crime and punishment of Mumia Abu-Jamal, there now seems to be no prohibition in the justice system against criminals killing police officers in the commission of a crime - especially in Philadelphia - since punishment is far from swift, certain or sure.

The criminal-justice system in the United States is broken, my fellow potential crime victims, and unless we hold public and elected officials responsible, more heroic police officers are going to be executed while performing their duties.

The murder of Officer Danny Faulkner 27 years ago started a cycle that telegraphed a message to potential cop-killers that murdering a Philadelphia police officer while committing a crime will not warrant the death penalty in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Over the last two years, the litany goes like this:

Philadelphia Police Officer Gary Skersky was shot and killed on May 8, 2006, when he interrupted a robbery, executed with a shot to his head. On Nov. 1, 2007, Officer Charles Cassidy (a classmate of mine at the Philadelphia Police Academy) was executed with a shot to the head, also interrupting a robbery. And just this past month, on May 3, Officer Stephen Liczbinsky was shot five times attempting to apprehend three robbery suspects.

Is a pattern becoming evident here?

Three valiant police officers were gunned down by social viruses that morphed into homo sapiens and were permitted to flourish by a liberal and dysfunctional criminal justice system.

This is the "Mumia Factor":

Because there is no fear of the ultimate retribution by the bad guys due to society's misguided tolerance that has allowed Cook to remain on death row for over 27 years, there is open season on cops. Arrogant judges shielding themselves behind full immunity against civil tort have created revolving-door justice that is now the rule - not the exception.

I for one have seen one too many names sandblasted into the National Law Enforcement Memorial wall in Washington, and I for one am sick and tired of turning on the television and seeing breaking news about another brave law-enforcement officer assaulted or killed by some low-life who should have been placed in jail and remained there, not released by a bleeding-heart, political-hack judge.

The circus that Mumia Abu-Jamal has created in our criminal justice system doesn't just circumvent justice and social equity, or prolong the pain and suffering of the Faulkner family - it has facilitated the murder of police officers in the line of duty with impunity.

And that is a crime that should not go unpunished! *

Robert D. Boyden is a former police officer, and is now a forensics consultant (crimesceneconcepts.com).