why are the white hats taking such a beating?

A repost from 2011..but in light of some recent LE publications I thought I’d bring it back to the top.

Image by SSSasky via Flickr

Chief Joel F. Shults has an article that is posted up at PoliceOne.com titled:

News from ILEETA 2011: Why aren’t cops killing more bad guys?

It starts out with the statement:

With police officer deaths headed toward as many as 200 this year (approximately half of line of duty deaths have been by murder) police trainers are asking themselves some hard questions about what’s going wrong.

Whats going wrong indeed. So far, the end of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 have produced more news stories of Law Enforcement Officers being feloniously killed in the line of duty than any other within my memory. While the question of “why” these people are killing cops is probably beyond anybodies power to determine (beyond the fact that the majority of them are violent offenders and convicted felons that our courts and parole boards have seen fit to unleash on us) , we LEO’s should be taking a serious look at what it is we are doing in terms of training, mindset and officer safety tactics.  Shults’ article breaks it down into what he defined as the following reasons:

  • Lack of Warrior Spirit
  • Discomfort with Firearm
  • Ignorance of Biology
  • Ambush
  • Fear of the Aftermath
  • Misunderstanding of the Law
  • Negotiation Culture
  • Segmented Training
  • Uncomfortable Distances
  • Lack of Research Data
  • Acceptance of Violence Against Officers
I have a lot to agree with Chief  Shults on these. Some recent videos and LEO deaths make some of these categories stand out.
Again from Chief Shults’ article:
Fear of the Aftermath — John Bostain, a senior instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, believes that police officers should be thoroughly trained on post-shooting protocol. A level of comfort with the realities of officer involved shootings could reduce hesitation. Both Bostain and Artwohl cited statistics showing overwhelmingly favorable outcomes for officers who kill offenders, both legally and emotionally despite the common perception that shooting a suspect has universally disastrous consequences. Surveys show that lag time in deciding to shoot is correlated to fears of these kinds of consequences.
Negotiation Culture — McKenna noted that there is a common practice of issuing repeated verbal commands prior to using deadly force. He postulated that the practice comes from a misreading of Tennessee V. Garner and the policies that arose from that watershed decision. Officers who face deadly adversaries and refrain from shooting are often rewarded for their restraint. Even in situations where observers would agree it was foolish to take the risk of not making decisive aggressive intervention, restraint is valued over lawful force options. Force instructors seldom use the word “kill,” deferring to euphemisms like “neutralize the threat,” “take care of the situation,” and “we don’t shoot to kill we shoot to stop the threat.”
This video provides an example:
One other thing that has recently stood out in my mind, centers around the recent tragic death of Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt. Officer Schmidt was recently gunned down on a traffic stop while trying to arrest a man with a warrant for an unleashed dog. The man came out of the backseat of the car firing and Schmidt lost his life. A quote from a local news article reads:
Wounded in the neck and scrambling away from a gunman, a young Arkansas police officer managed to shove his sergeant out of harm’s way before dying in a shootout while pleading for his life, witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The event transpired when Schmidt tried to remove the BG from the back deat.

According to Elumbaugh, when Schmidt opened the rear passenger door where Lard was sitting, Lard lunged at him and started shooting. Schmidt, hit in the neck by a bullet, turned away and pushed Overstreet toward safety.

Once Overstreet was behind Schmidt’s police car, Schmidt turned back toward Lard and began to return fire.

While he was shooting, Elumbaugh said, Lard was cursing Schmidt, saying “Die, (expletive)!”

“Please don’t shoot me. Please don’t shoot me,” Schmidt cried out, Elumbaugh said.

Now. I’m going to say something here and I want to be perfectly clear that I am in no way impugning Officer Schmidt’s courage, his sacrifice or the heroism that was shown in his effort to shield his brother officer from harm. I have fortunately never had to face this sort of situation and hopefully never will. If I do I may very well do the same as Schmidt and plead for the gunman not to kill me. What I do think though is that it’s an example of a mindset that we would do well to learn from. The mindset of FIGHTING, of getting angry and “Taking arrows in your forehead, but never in your back” needs to start with each and every one of us right NOW. It may sound like bluster, but I believe that if you think enough about something you have far better odds of doing it when the time comes. We have to start thinking about this sort of thing.

It’s my opinion that the “shoot to stop” meme so popular in our profession (and made necessary by attorneys) ingrains in us the mindset of “please stop..please let this stop him…God stop him!!”. In this sort of situation, where a gunman has hit you in the neck and is screaming “DIE F$%^#R!!!” at you…perhaps it should be entering into our minds that it’s KILL or BE KILLED! If he’s yelling “DIE MOTHER F#$@%R!!!” I’d prefer to see officers yelling “YOU FIRST A$$%^!E!!!” through a barrage of bullets.

I said this in a post back in 2008:

As risking ones life is part and parcel of being a warrior, a person on that path has to reconcile themselves with the possibility (and natural inevitability) of their death. The Samurai wrote about it fairly constantly. If death on the battlefield didn’t claim them, the possibility of being ordered to commit seppuku was always around the corner.

One of those writings, the Budoshoshinshu, has the following to say about it:

“One who is supposed to be a warrior considers it his foremost concern to keep death in mind at all times, every day and every night, from the morning of New Year’s Day through to the night of New Year’s Eve.”

“As long as you keep death in mind at all times, you will also fulfill the ways of loyalty and familial duty. You will also avoid myriad evils and calamities, you will be physically sound and healthy, and you will live a long life. What is more, your character will improve and your virtue will grow.”

Another passage says:

And all this misfortune springs from his not remembering to keep death always in his thoughts. But one who does this whether he is speaking himself or answering others will carefully consider, as befits a samurai, every word he says and never launch out into useless argument. Neither will he allow anyone to entice him into unsuitable places where he may suddenly confronted with an awkward situation, and thus he avoids evils and calamities. And both high and low, if they forget about death, are very apt to take to unhealthy excess in food and wine and women so that they die unexpectedly early from diseases of the kidneys and spleen, and even while they live their illness makes them of no use to anyone. But those who keep death always before their eyes are strong and healthy while young, and as they take care of their health and are moderate in eating and drinking and avoid the paths of women, being abstemious and moderate in all things, they remain free from disease and live a long and healthy life.

Basically. If you are putting your life on the line, make it worth it. If you keep in mind the fact that if you fight you may be killed, you will choose the proper time and place to risk your life. The knuckleheads killed in barrooms over “respect”, compared to a person who dies rescuing another is a good example of this concept.

The first time I seriously thought that I was going to die was in an auto accident when I was 18, but that happened so fast that it didn’t dawn on me until after the car stopped spinning. The first time I remember thinking “this could be the end of me” was when I was rappelling. I was 19-20 years old at the time. With little training and my gear consisting of nothing but an anchor rope, a carabiner, and a rope harness…dumbass that I was…I went off to a local cliff. I came off the rope, fell down the cliff (50-75 ft/slightly sloped) , bounced twice, and landed hard. Fortunately the rope wound around my arm, burning me pretty badly but slowed me down enough to just knock the wind out of me……then there was the time I tried a slack jump off of a railroad trestle….

Currently my career track has been diverting me farther and farther from “the road” so the odds of meeting my maker on that venue have been somewhat reduced. However I do still manage to get out on the street and lock a person up on the odd occasion so I do think about the possibility every now and then. My hope is that if it ever does happen, that I will “take it like a man”. I have no plan of going out begging for my life or crying and screaming as I have seen in some chilling training videos. I plan to go out angry, swearing and shooting, or at least trying to.

When it comes time for the “we all have to go sometime” moment, the only thing I hope is that it sneaks up on me and is quick. Preferably in my sleep. Otherwise suddenly will suffice.

2011 should be a wake-up call for us all. Instead of thinking “This will never happen to me”, perhaps we should start thinking about what we are going to do, and how we would like to act, WHEN it does. Be that on the Street or on our deathbeds.


3 thoughts on “why are the white hats taking such a beating?”

  1. The hardest thing to listen to was “tell my wife I love her” … man that sounds like such a cliche until you hear this….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s