Tag Archives: work

Do you think you are special or something?

COPS (TV series)
COPS (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is going to be sort of “free thought” and probably a bit disjointed so please bear with me as I try to put this together…

In the local news here a story was recently posted about an off duty LEO getting arrested by another agency for DWI. The social media comments then soon followed:

“Bet he gets off of it.”

“Good. They should be treated like everybody else.”

“They should be held to a higher standard.”

And so on….

Let me start out by saying that I think anybody who breaks the law should be prepared to face the consequences, regardless of your job or position in society. That’s the only way this system works. And I DO believe that we LEO’s have to hold ourselves to a higher standard simply because we are representatives of that system. Agreed. 110%.

However, there seems to be a Catch 22 in play here. Cops should be “treated just like anybody else” but they should also be treated differently (held to a higher standard) because they are cops. How does that work?

If you think every doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc who was ever arrested for DWI gets their names and profession paraded through the news you are sorely mistaken. Should we do so?

Never mind the issue of HOW this story made the news in the first place. Either the arresting agency contacted the media, the arrested officers department released it, the press heard something on a scanner or some disgruntled ex called the press. The stuff you see in the media is but a small fraction of the total number of arrests. Unless the PD or some other party has a particular interest in calling the media in, 99% of people locked up never have their story hit a major local outlet.

Of course there is the possibility that the off-duty was an ass and the arresting agency thought “screw him”. Or the arrested guys PD has been looking for a reason to can him and though the press could help “move him along”…who knows?

Treated like everybody else? That may kind of depend on the local PD or the individual cops involved. I have let many “non-cops” go with warnings. I’ve let people get rides home (all totally legal folks…if there was an accident or someone hurt they faced the music 100%). I’ve allowed that joint to get ground up and tossed in the gutter vs arrest (again…100% by the law). Should we treat cops with the same discretion? That’s a sticky question. Where do you draw the line? A cop with a joint is different from your college student daughter. But how do you balance “treat him/her like anyone else” with “hit him all the harder because he’s a cop”?

Do you just blindly let people off based on their LEO status? Do you let every auto-worker go simply because he works at the local factory? If you don’t, how is that fair? On the flip side, should I NEVER let your wife off with a warning for a brake light out or a one day expired registration? Should I never let a cop off with a warning for the same thing?

“Bet he gets off”…What? Like the 99% of other first time arrests who get sentenced to probation, or get a DWI reduced to an impaired and a fine? That would be getting treated “like everybody else”.

My thought’s (in general…there will always be exceptions)?  If we are going to treat cops “like anybody else” lets be consistent. If I’m not calling in the press on a surgeon locked up for DWI then I shouldn’t do it to a cop either. Certainly, someone from his/her PD should be notified so that they can deal with the repercussions of “being held to a higher standard”, but beyond that I don’t think airing non-felony arrests simply because it looks “transparent” is fair. For routine vehicle and traffic stops? If I can give a pass to your kid I shouldn’t be given grief for giving a pass to a cop. For routine stuff of course. If you find yourself giving passes for stuff you would NEVER give a pass to a non-LEO for that’s a sign of a problem.

In the end I guess I’m looking for a little clarification on expectations beyond the personal grudges people have against cops. Lets set aside all the baggage, name calling and “I remember when I was stopped” stories and discuss the facts and figures involved here.

Thoughts????

 

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K9 Abuse? Or Not?

This is getting a lot of internet traction lately. When I first watched it I was expecting something a LOT worse than what I saw. I think people are transferring the emotions they have for their family pet onto a working police dog.

While a person who has never been around Police K9’s may find this video shocking, because this is obviously something they would never do to their family pet, I’m not so quick to pass judgement on this officer. These Dogs can be exceedingly dominant and driven and are exceedingly tough. They do things your average dog would never do and are trained in ways your average dog is not.

In order to get some of these dogs to drop something from their mouths (which this dog had…watch the officer pick it up after) sometimes these handlers have to do things that may appear shocking to the unitiated because these dogs don’t pay attention to anything less. They are trained to drag fighting people to the ground after-all…they don’t scare easily and don’t even feel what may look like “abusive” blows. What good would a Police dog be if he was scared off by a suspect striking him?

Look. I’m not K9 trained…and I’m not defending the technique used here, If it’s determined that this was something more akin to he officer exhibiting frustration and anger at the dog than he deserves what he gets. Perhaps some handlers have less visually shocking methods to handle a highly driven dog and this PD should be looking into them, but for now I’m not 100% sold on the “OMG Animal Abuse” meme starting around this one. The dogs body language and wagging tail after he drops what he had tends to make me think the dog isn’t either.

stop in the name of the law!

  • I am not an attorney. This is for informational purposes only and is
    arrested
    arrested (Photo credit: My Photo Journeys)

    NOT to be mistaken for legal or professional advise.

  • Any opinions I write here are my own and do not represent the views of any agency that employees me.
  • If you have any personal legal concerns, contact a qualified attorney. 
  • I’m from New York and am only familiar with NY Law. These writings are based on that experience. Other States have different laws but many similarities at the root.

The remainder of Article 35 is:

35.25 Justification; use of physical force to prevent or terminate larceny or criminal mischief. A person may use physical force, other than deadly physical force, upon another person when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate what he or she reasonably believes to be the commission or attempted commission by such other person of larceny or of criminal mischief with respect to property other than premises.

This section covers the use of physical force (but not deadly physical force) to stop someone from stealing or damaging property. In typical “legal-eze” fashion, this was already covered “generally” back in 35.10, and in section 35.20 in regards to premises. This section spells out use of force to terminate larceny or criminal mischief “specifically”. You will note the “other than premises” part here. That is so this section doesn’t conflict with those other sections of law. Remember that section 35.20 authorizes the use of deadly physical force to stop arson of a dwelling or occupied building. You have to be careful that other sections of law don’t conflict.

This section is what is used frequently by store security and other security personnel to justify the use of force to apprehend/detain shoplifters, etc.

35.27 Justification; use of physical force in resisting arrest prohibited. A person may not use physical force to resist an arrest, whether authorized or unauthorized, which is being effected or attempted by a police officer or peace officer when it would reasonably appear that the latter is a police officer or peace officer.

If you know or should reasonably believe that a law enforcement officer is arresting you, you do not have legal authority to resist…even if you know you are innocent.

I know, this can sound unfair and there are many internet debates over if you should be allowed to fight a “rouge cop”. The fact of the matter is that cops have the authority to arrest on “probable cause”, not “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”. By and large most cops are arresting people because they have PC. Certainly some of those people may indeed be innocent. That’s why we have courts, a legal system and a burden of proof. The street is not the place to fight….court is.

35.30 Justification; use of physical force in making an arrest or in preventing an escape.

1. A police officer or a peace officer, in the course of effecting or attempting to effect an arrest, or of preventing or attempting to prevent the escape from custody, of a person whom he or she reasonably believes to have committed an offense, may use physical force when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to effect the arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody, or in self-defense or to defend a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force; except that deadly physical force may be used for such purposes only when he or she reasonably believes that:

A police officer can use physical force, but not deadly physical force, to make an arrest or prevent escape from custody as long as that use of force is “reasonable”. Remember what was said about reasonableness in my previous post. The same standard applies to the Police. The use of force needs to be reasonable at the time it’s used and not necessarily proven correct down the road when facts not available at the time are discovered.

The Police are authorized to use deadly physical force under the same circumstances as everybody else as explained previously PLUS they have the legal authority to use deadly physical force to arrest or stop the escape of a person if the below factors are present:

(a) The offense committed by such person was:

(i) a felony or an attempt to commit a felony involving the use or attempted use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or

(ii) kidnapping, arson, escape in the first degree, burglary in the first degree or any attempt to commit such a crime; or

(b) The offense committed or attempted by such person was a felony and that, in the course of resisting arrest therefor or attempting to escape from custody, such person is armed with a firearm or deadly weapon; or

(c) Regardless of the particular offense which is the subject of the arrest or attempted escape, the use of deadly physical force is necessary to defend the police officer or peace officer or another person from what the officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.

These conditions are specific to LE. Non-LE use of force in citizens arrest are covered further below.

2. The fact that a police officer or a peace officer is justified in using deadly physical force under circumstances prescribed in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision one does not constitute justification for reckless conduct by such police officer or peace officer amounting to an offense against or with respect to innocent persons whom he or she is not seeking to arrest or retain in custody.

Just because the police are authorized to use deadly physical force as described above does NOT mean they have the right to be reckless and a danger to people he/she is not attempting to arrest. I cant spray a crowd with gunfire to hit an escaping murderer.

3. A person who has been directed by a police officer or a peace officer to assist such police officer or peace officer to effect an arrest or to prevent an escape from custody may use physical force, other than deadly physical force, when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to carry out such police officer’s or peace officer’s direction, unless he or she knows that the arrest or prospective arrest is not or was not authorized and may use deadly physical force under such circumstances when:

If a LEO tells/orders/asks you to help in an arrest you can use physical force (not deadly force) to help him. If you KNOW (not “think”, “believe”, etc..but KNOW) the arrest is not authorized you will not be covered.

Under these circumstances YOU can use deadly force to assist the police in an arrest if the below conditions are met.

(a) He or she reasonably believes such to be necessary for self-defense or to defend a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or

(b) He or she is directed or authorized by such police officer or peace officer to use deadly physical force unless he or she knows that the police officer or peace officer is not authorized to use deadly physical force under the circumstances.

4. A private person acting on his or her own account may use physical force, other than deadly physical force, upon another person when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of a person whom he or she reasonably believes to have committed an offense and who in fact has committed such offense; and may use deadly physical force for such purpose when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to:

This covers “citizen arrests”. The section above is almost exactly like that for the Cop in NY Penal Law except for one very important part, The part that states AND WHO IN FACT COMMITTED SUCH OFFENSE.

Police can arrest on probable cause. That’s probably the most important power given them by law. You do not have that power. You have to “reasonably believe” that the person you are arresting did indeed break the law AND that the person IN FACT COMMITTED THE CRIME. If afterwords its discovered that the person didn’t commit the crime the Cop is covered as long as he had probable cause at the time. If you are assisting an officer at his command you are covered. If you use physical force in a citizens arrest and you were wrong……well….you see what this means right?

You are authorized to use deadly force in the course of a citizens arrest if the below conditions are met:

(a) Defend himself, herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force; or

(b) Effect the arrest of a person who has committed murder, manslaughter in the first degree, robbery, forcible rape or forcible criminal sexual act and who is in immediate flight therefrom.

Notice that the list of crimes is very specific and doesn’t include many of the “fleeing felon” sections that the Police Officer specific section above had.

5. A guard, police officer or peace officer who is charged with the duty of guarding prisoners in a detention facility, as that term is defined in section 205.00, or while in transit to or from a detention facility, may use physical force when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent the escape of a prisoner from a detention facility or from custody while in transit thereto or therefrom.

This last part is pretty easy to understand. Prison guards and cops transporting prisoners can use force to prevent escape.

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what gives you the right?

Standard disclaimer:

law books
law books (Photo credit: j3net)
  • I am not an attorney. This is for informational purposes only and is NOT to be mistaken for legal or professional advise.
  • Any opinions I write here are my own and do not represent the views of any agency that employees me.
  • If you have any personal legal concerns, contact a qualified attorney. 
  • I’m from New York and am only familiar with NY Law. These writings are based on that experience. Other States have different laws but many similarities at the root.

The first section of Article 35 that actually spells out the “Who’s What’s and When’s” of the justified use of force is section 35.10:

35.10 Justification; use of physical force generally.

The use of physical force upon another person which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances:

1. A parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a person under the age of twenty-one or an incompetent person, and a teacher or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a person under the age of twenty-one for a special purpose, may use physical force, but not deadly physical force, upon such person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of such person.

This is the section that allows parents to spank, restrain or otherwise discipline a child or other person under 21 they are guardian of. It also grants the same authority to teachers.

2. A warden or other authorized official of a jail, prison or correctional institution may, in order to maintain order and discipline, use such physical force as is authorized by the correction law.

Prison guards of course need to be able to maintain order.

3. A person responsible for the maintenance of order in a common carrier of passengers, or a person acting under his direction, may use physical force when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to maintain order, but he may use deadly physical force only when he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or serious physical injury.

Bus drivers, Ship captains, Pilots and others in charge of common carriers are authorized to use force to maintain order on their vehicles.

4. A person acting under a reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious physical injury upon himself may use physical force upon such person to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to thwart such result.

Self explanatory.

5. A duly licensed physician, or a person acting under a physician’s direction, may use physical force for the purpose of administering a recognized form of treatment which he or she reasonably believes to be adapted to promoting the physical or mental health of the patient if

(a)the treatment is administered with the consent of the patient or, if the patient is under the age of eighteen years or an incompetent person, with the consent of the parent, guardian or other person entrusted with the patient’s care and supervision, or

(b) the treatment is administered in an emergency when the physician reasonably believes that no one competent to consent can be consulted and that a reasonable person, wishing to safeguard the welfare of the patient, would consent.

This section not only allows physicians to physically restrain patients (intoxicated, mentally ill, etc.) if necessary it also allows doctors to do things like break bones for re-setting, stop the heart for surgical procedures, etc. When it comes to the law there has to be legal authorization for ANY use of force against another…even what you would take as “common sense” like a doctor sticking a needle into your arm.

6. A person may, pursuant to the ensuing provisions of this article, use physical force upon another person in self-defense or defense of a third person, or in defense of premises, or in order to prevent larceny of or criminal mischief to property, or in order to effect an arrest or prevent an escape from custody. Whenever a person is authorized by any such provision to use deadly physical force in any given circumstance, nothing contained in any other such provision may be deemed to negate or qualify such authorization.

This is the first mention of “self-defense” in Article 35 and it sets the stage. It simply spells out that Article 35 justifies the use of physical force in defense of self or another as well as defending your home, preventing theft or effecting a citizens arrest. Note it says Physical Force. The use of Justified Deadly Physical Force is spelled out further on.

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laying down the law

We have a database for laws
We have a database for laws (Photo credit: Newton Free Library)

Seeing how popular my NY Knife Law post is I’ve decided to start writing some short articles that will attempt to clarify some common, self-defense related, legal issues.

Let me make a few things clear first.

  • I am not an attorney. This is for informational purposes only and is NOT to be mistaken for legal or professional advise.
  • Any opinions I write here are my own and do not represent the views of any agency that employees me.
  • If you have any personal legal concerns, contact a qualified attorney. 
  • I’m from New York and am only familiar with NY Law. These writings are based on that experience. Other States have different laws but many similarities at the root.

Any discussion of self-defense related legal issues must focus on your particular states “Justification” section of law.

As a rule of thumb, you should look at ANY from of physical or deadly force as illegal per se. In a legal sense (vs a “human right” sense), what makes the use of force in self-defense something you shouldn’t go to jail for is your States “Justification” section of law. In NY that section of law is Article 35 of the NY Penal Law. It’s first subsection explains it’s purpose rather succinctly.

In any prosecution for an offense, justification, as defined in sections 35.05 through 35.30, is a defense.

Section 35.05 Justification; generally

Unless otherwise limited by the ensuing provisions of this article defining justifiable use of physical force, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when: 

1. Such conduct is required or authorized by law or by a judicial decree, or is performed by a public servant in the reasonable exercise of his official powers, duties or functions; or

2. Such conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the actor, and which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue. The necessity and justifiability of such conduct may not rest upon considerations pertaining only to the morality and advisability of the statute, either in its general application or with respect to its application to a particular class of cases arising thereunder. Whenever evidence relating to the defense of justification under this subdivision is offered by the defendant, the court shall rule as a matter of law whether the claimed facts and circumstances would, if established, constitute a defense.

In essence what this means is, “I broke the law but I was JUSTIFIED” and therefore exempt from any form of legal punishment. So…if you ever find yourself having to use force in NY to defend yourself your “defense” is Article 35.

The word DEFENSE…as in many things legal…has specific meaning beyond your common understanding.

In general, a (legal) defense is an argument a defendant raises in an attempt to avoid criminal or civil liability for their actions. In specific there are two different categories of defense. A DEFENSE and an AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE.

A DEFENSE, when raised, must be disproved by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt.

An AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE must be proven by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence. The insanity defense is a common affirmative defense.

So. In NY the defense of Justification is a DEFENSE. Once raised, the prosecution has to gather evidence, from an argument, and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your actions were NOT in self-defense or otherwise justifiable. You do not have to “prove” it. This may vary in other states.

This is typically where the discussion of “DON’T TALK TO THE POLICE” comes in. I’m not going to take a hard stance one way or the other here but it’s my personal opinion that you should be prepared to give a basic explanation of what happened to responding officers. A ” he jumped me, we fought, he pulled a knife, I was afraid for my life so I shot him.” sort of response MAY be the difference between going home that day or being arrested on the spot. Giving a lengthy explanation or going back to the station to write a statement without legal representation is another issue entirely.

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Where to start with school security.

Old School_House_
Old School_House_ (Photo credit: Total Mayhem)

Fact of the matter is. If you are serious about school safety 99% of them need to be torn down, re-designed and re-built. The days of “walk into your local school house/open and welcoming design” are gone….IMO a start would be:

-A buzzer opened door that leads directly into the school is BAD. People WILL need to come and go from a school for many legitimate reasons. What schools should have is what many PD’s have. A front desk area where you can do routine tasks through bullet-proof glass. If you need to come in to see admin you get buzzed into the admin area which is separate from the school area. If you need to get into the school proper you are let in from there.

-Exterior door and ground floor window glass cant be breached by some kid with a rifle.

-Interior classroom doors are always closed and locked during class…and the doors are “unkickable” and designed so that a person with a gun cant break out glass and reach in.

-Someone in the school, be it a full time SRO, a trained guard, or trained staff needs access to a weapon as an emergency tool.

know your enemy

 

English: Essa-queta, Kiowa Apache chief.
English: Essa-queta, Kiowa Apache chief. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let it be distinctly impressed upon my readers, that the Apache never attacks unless fully convinced of an easy victory. They will watch for days, scanning your every movement, observing your every act; taking exact note of your party and all its belongings.

Let no one suppose that these assaults are made upon the spur of the moment by bands accidentally encountered. Far from it; they are almost invariably the results of long watching – patient waiting – careful and rigorous observation, and anxious council…

-John C. Cremony “LIFE AMONG THE APACHES, 1850-1868,”

When I read this quote it made me think about work. When you coppers out there are putting together a case, planning a warrant service or a tactical operation, are you putting in as much intelligence work as you possibly can?

Do you know the players? Do you know the addresses they frequent? The cars they drive? Their girlfriends/boyfriends and their “down low spots”? Do you put in the hours of observation and surveillance that you should?

“Never attack unless fully convinced of an easy victory”.

Good advice.

 

police officers vs police sergeants

English: NYPD Sergeant Stripes - based upon th...
English: NYPD Sergeant Stripes – based upon the file: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NYPD_Sergeant_Stripes.png – redrawn as svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little humor with some buried lessons:

The First…

Eleven people were dangling below a helicopter on a rope. There were ten Officers and one Sergeant.

Since the rope was not strong enough to hold all the eleven, they decided that one of them had to let go to save all the others.

They could not decide who should be the volunteer. Finally the Sergeant said he would let go of the rope since Sergeants are used to doing everything for the good of the Service. They forsake their family, don’t claim all of their expenses and do a lot of overtime without getting anything in return.

When he finished his moving speech all the Officers began to clap…

Moral:

Never underestimate the powers of a Sergeant.

The Second…

A group of Sergeants and a group of Officers take a train to a conference. Each Officer holds a ticket. But the entire group of Sergeants has bought only one ticket for a single passenger. The Officers are just shaking their heads and are secretly pleased that the arrogant Sergeants will finally get what they deserve.

Suddenly one of the Sergeants calls out: “The conductor is coming!”. At once, all the Sergeants jump up and squeeze into one of the toilets. The conductor checks the tickets of the Officers. When he notices that the toilet is occupied he knocks on the door and says: “Ticket, please!” One of the Sergeants slides the single ticket under the doors and the conductor continues merrily on his round.

For the return trip the Officers decide to use the same trick. They buy only one ticket for the entire group but they are baffled as they realize that the Sergeants didn’t buy any tickets at all. After a while one of the Sergeants announces again: “The conductor is coming!” Immediately all the Officers race to a toilet and lock themselves in.

All the Sergeants leisurely walk to the other toilet. Before the last Sergeant enters the toilet, he knocks on the toilet occupied by the Officers and says: “Ticket, please!”

And the moral of the story?

Officers like to use the methods of the Sergeants, but they don’t really understand them.

The Third…

Once upon a time three Officers were walking through the woods and suddenly they were standing in front of a huge, wild river. But they desperately had to get to the other side. But how, with such a raging torrent? The first Officer knelt down and prayed to the Lord: “Lord, please give me the strength to cross this river! ”

*pppppfffffffuuuuffffffff*

The Lord gave him long arms and strong legs. Now he could swim across the river. It took him about two hours and he almost drowned several times.

BUT: he was successful!

The second Officer, who observed this, prayed to the Lord and said: “Lord, please give me the strength AND the necessary tools to cross this river!”

*pppppfffffffuuuuffffffff*

The Lord gave him a tub and he managed to cross the river despite the fact that the tub almost capsized a couple of times.

The third Officer who observed all this knelt down and prayed: “Lord, please give me the strength, the means and the intelligence to cross this river!”

*pppppfffffffuuuuffffffff*

The Lord converted the Officer into a Sergeant. The Sergeant took a quick glance on the map, walked a few meters upstream and crossed the bridge.

Send this to a Sergeant so that they have something to smile about;

and to the Officers if you think they can stomach the truth!

i ain’t all that (and plan on it staying that way)

A still photo of the Noche de Emergencias prog...
A still photo of the Noche de Emergencias program, depicting Julio Segura yelling Fua. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something every cop will hear sooner or later,

“you ain’t nothing but a badge and a gun…take that gun off and see how tough you are!”

“take that gun off and come in here and I’ll kick your ass!!!”

“you ain’t nothin without that badge!”

Most of it of course is bluster that the subject you are dealing with is using to bolster his ego. But there is a kernal of truth in it and I think thats a good thing.

We use our authority, our weapons, our numbers and our equipment to get the job done without having to prove how good of a fighter we are, or “how tough” we are. This job is not a matter of toughness, it’s a matter of getting what needs to be done…done. If that means fighting than so be it, but it’s gonna be a short career if you think you have to prove you are bigger and badder than everyone you meet…because you are not.

Don’t let people goad you into a situation where you could wind up catching an IA at best..or dead at worst. If someone says they would kick your ass without that gun than just smile an tell them that it’s a good thing that you do have that gun….and 10 other guys with them too.

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.

21300038
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.

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