Isla Vista: Could Rodger Have Been Stopped?

 

My latest piece over at PJ Media concerns the murders in Isla Vista. Among other issues, I discuss the pro forma calls for more gun control, this in a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. A sample:

 And still there are those who entertain the childish fantasy that some act of legislation, some magical addition to California’s already voluminous gun laws, might have been the one that impeded [Elliot] Rodger from carrying out what he was determined to do. Richard Martinez, father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, one of the students Rodgers killed on Friday, has been passionate in his condemnation of the National Rifle Association and the politicians he perceives to be in its thrall. “Why did Chris die?”, he asked reporters. “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.”

Mr. Martinez can be forgiven in his grief for failing to blame the actual killer, but even in grief one must not disregard the grief felt by others whose loss is just as great. Elliot Rodger killed six people, three of them by gunfire. And he injured 13 others, eight by gunfire. The parents of those stabbed to death or run down in the street might ask, “You seek to ban the implement that harmed your child, but what’s to be done about the one that harmed mine?”

And I’ve just finished reading this story in the Los Angeles Times, which reveals that the sheriff’s deputies who performed a “welfare check” on Rodger back in April had not viewed the YouTube videos that prompted their visit. If they had, would it have made a difference? 

It’s hard to say, but it’s possible they wouldn’t have been able to view them at all unless they used their own computers or smart phones. I don’t know if this is the case in the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department, but in the LAPD (and in some other police agencies I’m aware of) software installed on department computers prevents officers from visiting YouTube and other sites that might distract them from their duties. 

There’s a movement to scapegoat the cops for what happened last Friday, but you shouldn’t buy into it. Members of the Ricochetti, your thoughts?

There are 19 comments.

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  1. user_1029039 Member
    user_1029039
    @JasonRudert

    Considering how much of peoples’ lives goes on on the internet these days, a quick googling and facebook/youtube search should maybe be part of a welfare check? At least for younger people, or in a case where some mental disturbance like this is the reason for the check? Seems reasonable. 
    There really is no solution to this problem of pre-identifying killers, though. Because in hindsight, it’s easy to see the signs, but then at the other end of the spectrum you have plenty of people who are just a little weird who get unfairly branded as dangerous.

    • #1
  2. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    I am so tired of the same-old Liberal knee-jerk reaction blaming guns for tragic events. In this case I would like to know more about how the Police handled the request from the family to investigate whether or not Rodgers was a danger to himself or others and why they failed to realize he definitely was. Are the Police limited by California Law in their ability to investigate individuals with possible mental health issues or did they fail to take this case seriously or do they lack the resources to investigate every complaint?

    • #2
  3. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    Pelayo: In this case I would like to know more about how the Police handled the request from the family to investigate whether or not Rodgers was a danger to himself or others and why they failed to realize he definitely was.

    According to news reports, the parents weren’t the ones who called the police. The mother brought the video to the attention of the boy’s therapist, who watched it and then called the police. Did the therapist subordinate confidentiality because of the threat to others? Or did the therapist fail to communicate the full extent of the threat, to preserve confidentiality?

    I don’t know enough about the particulars to question whether, in situations like this, the psychologist should have more authority to declare a patient a threat to himself or others. Certainly the police are not trained in the kind of diagnosis that would allow them to determine whether or not someone like Elliot Rodger poses such a danger and should be confined preemptively.

    (And then there’s the counterbalancing question of whether processes exist to safeguard the rights of people who do not pose such a danger from abuse of that of power.)

    • #3
  4. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    I don’t want to scapegoat the cops either, but I wonder whether they could not simply have asked Rodger’s permission to enter his apartment and look around (or at least asked his permission to conduct their welfare check inside the apartment). His response to the request might have been useful in their evaluation of his mental state.

    • #4
  5. Wylee Coyote Member
    Wylee Coyote
    @WyleeCoyote

    Jack, perhaps you could answer something that has confused me. I don’t live in California, but it was my understanding that handguns have to be registered there.

    If that is the case, why all the angst about whether the police might have found his stash of guns and ammunition? Rodger himself seemed worried about it, but it seems like information they would already have had, and would be of little probative value. So he had guns, so what? He bought them legally, he jumped through all the hoops.

    • #5
  6. Funeral Guy Inactive
    Funeral Guy
    @FuneralGuy

    A small quibble, but the sherif should have ditched the shades for the press conference. It made him look like he had something to hide. The shades coupled with the “Pornstache” gave him the look of an 80’s cocaine kingpin.

    • #6
  7. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    I oppose any movement to try to ‘prevent’ crimes proactively. I don’t want police taking arbitrary decisions as to who is a danger in the absence of crimes or hard evidence of intent to commit a crime. It is a very slippery slope to start confiscating weapons, detaining people, etc, based upon some intangible things like videos on you tube that say scary stuff.

     Its easy in hindsight to say ‘The police spoke to this guy a month ago why didn’t they stop this’, but that is a utopian view of who police are. they can’t prevent crimes, they can only investigate and prosecute after the fact. Anything else, and you are opening the door to totalitarianism.

    Jay Nordlinger on NRO today:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/379063/reppin-it-c-jay-nordlinger
    a criminal charge in Cuba — a charge on which a great many innocent people have been jailed (and subsequently tortured, etc.). That charge is “pre-criminal social dangerousness.” You have not done anything wrong, in the eyes of the Communists, yet. But something tells the Communists that you might.
    Is that where we are headed, in the name of preventing madmen from committing murder?

    • #7
  8. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    PHenry:

    I oppose any movement to try to ‘prevent’ crimes proactively. I don’t want police taking arbitrary decisions as to who is a danger in the absence of crimes or hard evidence of intent to commit a crime. 

    Mayor de Blasio would agree, I’m sure.

     

    • #8
  9. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    Basil Fawlty:

    Mayor de Blasio would agree, I’m sure.

    I don’t see the parallel. My position has nothing to do with being soft on crime, or criminals. It is about preserving the civil and human rights of free people who are NOT criminals, but whom the state decides are a possible danger based upon arbitrary judgments.

    So, what criteria would you use to deny the basic civil rights of a person in order to prevent a crime that has not yet been, and may very well never be committed? And how do you prevent that from being used politically once that can has been opened?

    • #9
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    PHenry:

    Basil Fawlty:

    Mayor de Blasio would agree, I’m sure.

    I don’t see the parallel. My position has nothing to do with being soft on crime, or criminals. It is about preserving the civil and human rights of free people who are NOT criminals, but whom the state decides are a possible danger based upon arbitrary judgments.

    So, what criteria would you use to deny the basic civil rights of a person in order to prevent a crime that has not yet been, and may very well never be committed? And how do you prevent that from being used politically once that can has been opened?

     I was thinking of the “stop and frisk” controversy in New York. Any policing technique is open to potential abuse, but I’m willing to allow minimal impact on civil rights when the alternative is New York under Dinkins, etc.

    • #10
  11. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    As an NRA member, I’m totally used to being called an accomplice to murder. Doesn’t even phase me anymore. But here’s what is odd. Let’s say a guy gets drunk and crashes his car, killing several people. People blame the drunk – which is proper – and that’s about it. Some may blame the owner of the bar where he got drunk. An attorney may blame a bar where the drunk had a couple drinks, even though he wasn’t drunk when he left that bar, but that’s a whole other topic.

    Nobody ever blames drinkers in general. No grieving parent or celebrity ever says that everyone who ever enjoys an alcoholic beverage shares the blame for the crash. But when someone is killed with a gun, all gun owners are held responsible in the minds of some people.

    • #11
  12. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    Elliot Rodger and his Day of Retribution plan was three years in the making. When the deputies went to meet him at his apartment Elliot was savvy enough to talk to them outside his apartment. His previous You Tube videos from what I understand would not have been enough to allow a search of his room without his consent. His final You Tube video was posted moments before he left the apartment to start his killing spree. This video might have been enough to at least place him on a 72 hour pysch hold. It was no accident that he did not post it until he was on the way to execute his 3 three year plan. In his manifesto when he states that the “police” almost ended his plan was just another attempt to shift the blame for his actions onto someone else. He had no intention of giving his consent to a search of his room. There is one person responsible for what happened that evening in Isla Vista that person is Elliot Rodger. 

    • #12
  13. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Son of Spengler:

    Pelayo: In this case I would like to know more about how the Police handled the request from the family to investigate whether or not Rodgers was a danger to himself or others and why they failed to realize he definitely was.

    According to news reports, the parents weren’t the ones who called the police. The mother brought the video to the attention of the boy’s therapist, who watched it and then called the police. Did the therapist subordinate confidentiality because of the threat to others? Or did the therapist fail to communicate the full extent of the threat, to preserve confidentiality?

    I don’t know enough about the particulars to question whether, in situations like this, the psychologist should have more authority to declare a patient a threat to himself or others. Certainly the police are not trained in the kind of diagnosis that would allow them to determine whether or not someone like Elliot Rodger poses such a danger and should be confined preemptively.

    (And then there’s the counterbalancing question of whether processes exist to safeguard the rights of people who do not pose such a danger from abuse of that of power.)

     While unfamiliar with the laws in California, I can say that in Washington State, the duty to inform/warn the police is required of therapists if the patient reports suicidal or homicidal intent. This stems from the Tarasoff case. The other instance of mandated reporting is if the client discloses the abuse of a child or vulnerable adult. It is clearly communicated to patients prior to entering therapy that their confidentiality will be breached in these cases and they must agree to this.

    • #13
  14. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Doug Watt:

    “Elliot Rodger and his Day of Retribution plan was three years in the making. When the deputies went to meet him at his apartment Elliot was savvy enough to talk to them outside his apartment. His previous You Tube videos from what I understand would not have been enough to allow a search of his room without his consent.”

    ***

    And the deputies weren’t savvy enough to ask his permission to take a look inside his apartment or ask his permission to conduct their evaluation inside the apartment? Or, if they did ask and were refused permission, they weren’t savvy enough to have had their BS meters triggered? 

    • #14
  15. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    Basil Fawlty:

    And the deputies weren’t savvy enough to ask his permission to take a look inside his apartment or ask his permission to conduct their evaluation inside the apartment? Or, if they did ask and were refused permission, they weren’t savvy enough to have had their BS meters triggered?

    First of all we have no idea what the therapist told the sheriffs department or what the therapist said when he/she asked for the welfare check. Second of all he (Elliot Rodger) had never been involuntarily committed or placed on a pysch hold in the past. Third I have never had a DA ask me in front of a grand jury; Officer Watt when was your BS meter triggered? My BS meter was triggered the moment I left roll call. Just because my BS meter was triggered does not mean I can put someone in the back seat of my patrol car. I have to have probable cause. If the subject on a welfare check is not going ballistic, punching someone, or slitting his own wrists there was not a lot I could do. Read all 137 pages of the manifesto, this guy was very clever.

    • #15
  16. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Doug Watt:

    Basil Fawlty:

    First of all we have no idea what the therapist told the sheriffs department or what the therapist said when he/she asked for the welfare check. Second of all he (Elliot Rodger) had never been involuntarily committed or placed on a pysch hold in the past. Third I have never had a DA ask me in front of a grand jury; Officer Watt when was your BS meter triggered? My BS meter was triggered the moment I left roll call. Just because my BS meter was triggered does not mean I can put someone in the back seat of my patrol car. I have to have probable cause. If the subject on a welfare check is not going ballistic, punching someone, or slitting his own wrists there was not a lot I could do. Read all 137 pages of the manifesto, this guy was very clever.

    Police don’t need probable cause to ask permission to conduct an interview inside someone’s apartment, or to be curious and ask additional questions if that permission is refused. No cuffs, no back seat of the patrol car. Just common sense.

    • #16
  17. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Wylee Coyote:

    Jack, perhaps you could answer something that has confused me. I don’t live in California, but it was my understanding that handguns have to be registered there.

    If that is the case, why all the angst about whether the police might have found his stash of guns and ammunition? Rodger himself seemed worried about it, but it seems like information they would already have had, and would be of little probative value. So he had guns, so what? He bought them legally, he jumped through all the hoops.

    Yes, all handguns have to be registered in California. Which they were in this case. I don’t know what information the deputies had before going to his apartment. Typically, they wouldn’t have had much. And, as you said, if they had known he had purchased the guns, or if they had found them during a consent search, then what? Absent a crime or the conditions necessary for a 5150 hold, i.e. danger to self or others, or gravely disabled due to a mental illness, there would have been nothing for the deputies to do but say, “Have a nice day.”

    • #17
  18. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    In the face of a horrible incident such as this, we want answers. Fast answers. Short answers. And the media are happy to provide us the short, fast answer: guns. But the root problem here is mental illness. And there is no fast, short answer for that.

    I grieve for the families of the victims. And I understand the lashing out against guns. It is pure emotion. Unfortunately, the news media will never dig down to the real story – mental illness. That would take too much time and effort.

    • #18
  19. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN
    • #19

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