‘Bob, He’s Gonna Kill Me’

 

As America oscillates through the recent civic upheaval in its concepts of policing, it has been hard to miss that the conversation is very uninformed. While it is imperative that the citizens of a democracy set the rules by which the laws are enforced, it is equally imperative that they understand the repercussions.

Just as football fans would ignore the opinions of TV talking heads who’ve never stepped foot in a stadium (never mind never actually played the game), citizens should be extremely wary of politicians and yaktivists who condemn police tactics without understanding their underlying principles.

I’ve written about policing issues for several publications, including the Los Angeles Times. I have attended a complete law enforcement academy and spent hundreds of hours on patrol with cops as both a journalism and concerned citizen.

But, I never pinned on a badge. So, I am equally immersed in the perspective of an average citizen who has had some very disappointing encounters with the police, as recently as last month.

This varied set of experiences informs me that most people really have no understanding of the mindset of a police officer because they lack the foundational knowledge that police training imparts in law enforcement officers.

While police academies have extensive curricula covering many topics – criminal and evidentiary law, weapons handling, first aid, and so many others – the day-to-day emphasis is on creating a mindset of self-preservation that is unlike any other occupation – even more so than my experience as an Army infantryman. Understanding this “officer safety” mindset is integral to influencing the way police work is done.

The fibers of the safety mindset were woven into cops from the first moments of the academy. Most were taught with case studies. The subject of the case was dead. Always dead. And always a specific individual – by name – who lost his life in a way that budding cops need to avoid.

These lessons formed a list of 21 Rules, each directly traceable to the experience of a cop who died exemplifying it. Two decades later the specifics have faded from my mind, but the gist remains:

#1: Always keep your gun hand free. Never have anything in your gun hand (beyond a pen for note taking), because if you suddenly need your gun you’ll have no time to empty your hands. Note pads, flash lights and coffee cups were always to be grasped in the weak hand. You never know when someone will approach you in a parking lot to kill you.

Another: Always watch people’s hands. Eyes can’t punch or pull a concealed gun.

Never stand in front of a door. That’s where an ambushing suspect will shoot through.

And: Talk to people from a “bladed stance.” One shoulder forward, gun side away, weight on your back foot. You never know when someone will throw a punch. This is intimidating, unfriendly and life-saving.

These are not tactics for specific situations. Tactics like building searches are a distinct set of instruction. Rather, these lessons are about developing safe habits for a cop’s life so it can be a long life.

This is unlike any other occupation that interacts with the public. A mechanic may learn specific steps to safely lift a car. A power-line repairman may consider all lines to be live wires. But a police officer works in a world where unseen live wires are omnipresent, and constant vigilance is required to avoid them.

It is this safety-oriented perspective that many people mistake for arrogance or bullying. And, it is true, those negative traits can also be wrongly excused away as “officer safety.” Differentiating “safe” from “bullying” is impossible without understanding the threats.

It is in this knowledge that honest police reform advocates (vice cop haters) fall short. In 2007, Civil rights attorney Connie Rice issued “Rampart Reconsidered,” a report criticizing the LAPD’s “warrior culture” which she blamed on “the myth and lore of urban policing.”

Interestingly, the report was issued hours after LAPD officer was shot and paralyzed. Rice has never said if she considers Officer Kristina Rippati’s injuries to be to be “lore,” merely a “myth” — or perhaps a lesson officers should learn.

Unfortunately, dramatic fiction and the news media have given the general public a concept of policing that is one part Cliff Notes and another a hall of mirrors. Facts like the decisive factors articulated by officers in a shooting are usually buried. Thus, many people can’t understand why police shoot unarmed suspects. But, they might had they had been in my academy class as an instructor tearfully recounted his partner struggling with a man who was trying to disarm him, and then look up and cry “Bob, he’s gonna kill me.” The instructor, instead, killed the “unarmed man.” That sort of detail is rarely gets to the general public.

This situation is partially the fault of police departments who feed the media sanitized accounts for investigative necessity. But rarely does the public know if a cop shoots a suspect from seven feet away (the average distance of an engagement), 50 feet away, or while physically entangled, pinned to the ground using a back-up gun.

Worse, TV drama depictions of well-rehearsed marksmanship lead to statements like “I don’t understand why the cops didn’t just shoot him in the leg,” This prima facie admission of ignorance and demand for ballistic improbabilities make cops who are interested in going home after work dismiss the discussion.

If Americans want (as they should) to dictate the way policing is done, they must understand not just that policing deserves lip service about danger, but that cops die when they give suspects the benefit of the doubt. They can be killed by “unarmed” suspects. They can die when everything seems calm. They can be shot in a fraction of a second. That even a handcuffed suspect is not safe. And that they can be beaten to death.

Because while the yaktivists will parade their signs with names like Michael Brown, Eric Garner and John Crawford, cops carry names in their hearts and in the back of their minds: Ken Wrede. Daniel Fraembs. Bruce K. Lee. Elizabeth Butler. Evan Bell. David Smith. And innumerable more. None of whom did anything to get themselves killed, except try to keep their communities safe.

Without this foundation of understanding, police reformers will be taken no more seriously than an NFL coach perceives a Monday morning quarterback who’s never set foot in a stadium.

And the cop has a lot more to lose than a Super Bowl ring.

There are 91 comments.

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  1. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I suppose next our military will start bitching about war deaths and injuries.

    When one puts on a badge he signs away his life, not that of every citizen he meets.

    • #1
  2. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    And another thing, don’t say the only other option is citizens alone against the criminals as if that’s a worse possibility. Citizens alone against the criminals and the police is the greater of two evils.

    • #2
  3. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    The King Prawn:I suppose next our military will start bitching about war deaths and injuries.

    When one puts on a badge he signs away his life, not that of every citizen he meets.

    Having buried more friends and acquaintances than I care to remember between Iraq and Afghanistan, I think I know a thing or two about our war dead.  And I think that we give our Soldiers in combat a great deal of leeway in dealing with the threats they face.  I know I’ve called artillery and helicopter gun ships to deal with lightly armed Jihadis.

    But, I don’t think for a second that I “signed my life away” when I pledged an oath to my country.  I certainly know the risks, but I would never send Soldiers into battle without all the support I could give them, and I would be offended if my commander asked that of me.

    Do you think police deserve commensurately less support?  That their job should be more dangerous, in terms of their ability to react to threats?

    Police officers use force of any kind in less than 1% of arrests.  Deadly force is measured in per-10,000 arrest ratios.  That is hardly “every citizen.”

    Perhaps you should research some of factors that I cited to understand that perspective.  Or do you think cops have a duty to ‘die in place’ like we would be aghast to ask of the military, and give all the benefit of the doubt to anyone who doesn’t readily admit to being a mugger, killer or molestor?

    • #3
  4. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    I have been shot at, and I had to wrestle with someone that was trying to take my handgun as a police officer. I have had to pin someone on the hood of their car as they were trying to pull a gun from their waistband. The only obligation I had was to protect my partner, citizens who were not a threat, and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.

    • #4
  5. franco91953@gmail.com Member
    franco91953@gmail.com
    @

     So, I am equally immersed in the perspective of an average citizen who has had some very disappointing encounters with the police, as recently as last month.

    I’d be interested in this story.

    I think there is far too much emphasis on officer safety and it creates an us/them mindset in too many cops. Ordinary citizens are seen as potential threats and this colors their interactions with law abiding citizens. When combined with the authoritarian license police have over us, it can create animosity. I no longer see police as my friend or ally. Too many negative encounters through my life and not enough positive ones. Oh. I must be a criminal of some sort then! No, I’m not. The role of police oficer has changed from public servant protecting citizens to vassal for the State to collect funds and intimidate anyone they encounter for the sake of their ‘safety.

    All cops aren’t bad, but why is it that cops think all of us citizens deserve to be treated like serfs?

    • #5
  6. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    Franco:

    I’d be interested in this story.

    I think there is far too much emphasis on officer safety and it creates an us/them mindset in too many cops. Ordinary citizens are seen as potential threats and this colors their interactions with law abiding citizens. When combined with the authoritarian license police have over us, it can create animosity. I no longer see police as my friend or ally. Too many negative encounters through my life and not enough positive ones. Oh. I must be a criminal of some sort then! No, I’m not. The role of police oficer has changed from public servant protecting citizens to vassal for the State to collect funds and intimidate anyone they encounter for the sake of their ‘safety.

    All cops aren’t bad, but why is it that cops think all of us citizens deserve to be treated like serfs?

    I think that is exactly the point of my post.  The vast majority don’t think that.  The problem is that threats they face require them to act in a way that is interpreted as such.

    Staunch libertarians are fond of saying “well, only 29 police officers were shot to death in 2013.”  Which may be true.  But how many would have been if police didn’t conduct themselves with safety oriented habits?

    It’s rather gutsy of someone to say: “I know your job is dangerous and there are safe ways of doing it, but we’re not going to let you be safe because it makes us feel uncomfortable.”

    • #6
  7. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    I think that each person who serves in the military understands that should his or her life be required in the performance of assigned duties that the decision to render it up has already been made. Yes, each of us does everything reasonable and responsible to prevent that eventuality, but if the circumstances required it we would not reneged on the oath.

    The police are empowered with great authority over us and given a much wider latitude on the use of force against their fellow citizens than is given generally to the citizenry, but along with that greater authority comes a greater responsibility as well. Franco touched on what I’m driving at. Police, in my very limited experience with them, treat every citizen they encounter as a threat by default. I understand that the vast majority of their interactions with their fellow citizens is with those citizens who choose criminality and disregard of the law as a way of life. However, this does not provide carte blanche to behave in such a manner during every interaction.

    When a situation arises which requires the police to act with the great power they are granted I expect them to do so, but not before. I support officers taking every precaution you outlined until the situation and the person is evaluated. Once the evaluation has been done, however, treating the average Joe like a dangerous criminal is unwarranted.

    • #7
  8. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Robert C. J. Parry:

    Do you think police deserve commensurately less support [than soldiers]?  That their job should be more dangerous, in terms of their ability to react to threats?

    This question deserves more than a quick and simple answer, I think.

    The distinction between policeman and soldier would probably be easier to make if modern soldiers were not used like police during occupations. The distinction is blurred further by gang warfare in our inner cities combined with the employment of officers from outside the areas they patrol.

    The city of Houston recently flirted with the idea of paying individual police officers more to live in the neighborhoods they protect. What do you think of the idea?

    In dangerous areas, it obviously increases the likelihood of violent reprisals from criminals. And an officer’s neighbors would probably treat him as if he was “on call” 24/7, seeking his help without a recorded 911 call and expecting unofficial favors. On the upside, it might result in more and better contextualized intel, smoother relations with informants and people in need, hope of intervention with the families of rookie criminals or wannabes who might yet be deterred, and perhaps less of the us-vs-them mentality on either side. It might also help return our culture to traditions in which the line between official and unofficial aid is less clear, so officers and residents can help each other without tripping over red tape.

    • #8
  9. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Officer safety is not, and should not, be the very top priority. Any more than our men and women in uniform prioritize safety above all.  For if they did, they would not put on a uniform.

    Let me give an example. I (and my community) live in a city with a police department on the verge of collapse. And so I volunteer for an active neighborhood watch group.

    What this means in practice is that if a suspicious person is seen walking down the street, that our group will observe. Police will not come, in most cases, unless and until a crime has been committed – and often not even then. So if a person is walking down the street, in an offensive pose and carrying a large crowbar, our group are the people who, if the situation requires it, confront him.

    We are not, generally, armed. We are, however, somewhat skilled, and many of us are confident that we can handle an untrained but aggressive man with a crowbar. Some of us have done it before.

    Why do we do it? Because I would much rather the person attacks me, than a random victim. I, at least, am at least minimally prepared, and there is back up. In other words, my personal safety is not my top priority. If my community is threatened, I have to take risks to keep other people safe.

    To me, this is common sense.

    • #9
  10. franco91953@gmail.com Member
    franco91953@gmail.com
    @

    The problem is that threats they face require them to act in a way that is interpreted as such.

    I have no problem with police taking basic precautions. The problem is how they act towards us even after they can reasonably conclude there is no threat and that we are taxpayers and generally good citizens who are NOT criminals, not reckless drivers, and not some scourge upon law and order.  This whole safety thing has to be addressed. It’s everywhere. I had some cop half my age lecture me about being ‘safe’ because I did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign. There is a difference between minding the letter of the law and being safe. The cop did not witness me being “unsafe”, there were no other cars or pedestrians in sight- ” he saw me not abide by the law. This distinction is lost on the drones that are increasingly prevalent in today’s policing and sadly higher IQ’s are excluded from police work these days..  It’s pablum for control. The conceit is that police are there to ‘keep us safe’. I can keep myself ‘safe’ thank you very much Would you please find and catch criminals and not pick the low-hanging fruit because …(it’s safer for you ?)

    Police have a giant PR problem and if they had any respect for citizens they would do well to be mindful of their role and duty and to act with respect rather than assume some narcissistic hero-status because “thier lives are on the line”. Everyone’s lives are on the line and moreso us civilians who are for the most part unarmed and vulnerable to thugs and criminals, while the cop is elsewhere writing a chickenshit ticket and pretending he’s a hero. To the extent they take extraordinary precautions to protect themselves, they are jeapardizing the claim to hero status. They can be safe, or they can be heroes. They can’t have both.

    • #10
  11. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Franco:

    Everyone’s lives are on the line and moreso us civilians who are for the most part unarmed and vulnerable to thugs and criminals, while the cop is elsewhere writing a chickenshit ticket and pretending he’s a hero. To the extent they take extraordinary precautions to protect themselves, they are jeapardizing the claim to hero status. They can be safe, or they can be heroes. They can’t have both.

    Bingo.

    One of the police stories that left me with a negative opinion of cops was a description of a home invasion. The cops showed up a half hour after they were called, five minutes away from a speed trap. Then they berated and threatened the caller for asking why it took so long for them to show up.

    That said, when it comes down to the choice of leftist street thugs or cops, I’ll pick cops every single time.

    Reform is needed, which should be obvious.

    Unfortunately we do not seem to have a political party that will make that case.

    The party of DeBlasio certainly won’t, and the other party seems incapable of making any political case at all, for anything.

    Pitiful.

    • #11
  12. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    In other words, my personal safety is not my top priority. If my community is threatened, I have to take risks to keep other people safe.

    To me, this is common sense.

    So, 53 officers feloniously killed last year is not sufficient risk?

    • #12
  13. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    They can be safe, or they can be heroes. They can’t have both.

    So it’s not sufficient that they go to the active shooter?  That they search for the armed robbery suspect?  That they stop cars knowing they are reported stolen?

    They have to do that and be reckless about it to have your admiration?  53 killed last year wasn’t enough?

    • #13
  14. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Good, provocative post.

    I concur with the requiring the police to incorporate (let’s not say “safety”) Force Protection into every element of their interaction with the public.  As Miyomato Musashi said, “Your walking stance should be your fighting stance; your fighting stance should be your walking stance.”

    I’m not LE, so any current or former police, please correct my statements as required.

    I think it comes down to training.  Break it down: 90% of police interactions are going to be with a compliant citizenry.  9% are going to be with people that aren’t compliant, but are distraught or under duress (perhaps pharmaceutically generated duress, but nonetheless).  And 1% is the stone killer who is going to consciously become a cop killer.  Maybe because he sets out to assassinate a police, maybe because the killing enables his escape from some other, lesser crime, maybe because the police stands between him and his objective.  As an aside, I’d assign Michael Brown 1% status; Eric Garner 9% status.

    After the academy, how much time, money, and man-hours can any law enforcement organization expend to train for 1%–or 10% of the population that will comprise a sliver of a percentage of its engagements?  Remember that the vast majority of police never draw their weapon during the course of a career.  Now, let’s bean count.

    Police have to patrol, do paperwork, appear in court, attend diversity training.  How much manpower and money does training dedicated to deal with the 1% can any local or state (maybe federal?) sustain?

    Oh, and these are perishable skills.  And the appropriate physiological/psychological response to a potentially life-threatening situation diminish with the skills required to deal with it.  So a once-a-year two-day training seminar isn’t going to cut it.

    Of those limited hours police have to dedicate to training and honing their skills, how much can they train for the sad, psycho 1% of us without impinging on the training of those (critical) skills needed to protect and serve the 90% of us?

    • #14
  15. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Franco:

    Everyone’s lives are on the line and moreso us civilians who are for the most part unarmed and vulnerable to thugs and criminals, while the cop is elsewhere writing a chickenshit ticket and pretending he’s a hero. To the extent they take extraordinary precautions to protect themselves, they are jeapardizing the claim to hero status. They can be safe, or they can be heroes. They can’t have both.

    I’m sensing there’s another Adam Carolla fan in the comments section, n’est pas?

    • #15
  16. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    I guess what troubles me about the OP is that by it’s logic, police should just shoot everyone.  If a cop sees you, he should pop you.  Who knows?  You might have a gun.  I’m trying really hard not to be insensitive to what I don’t doubt are the genuine dangers of the job, and certainly it’s horrible when an officer is killed in the line of duty, but all interactions between persons involve some level of risk.  To say police work is dangerous doesn’t really answer the question.  So is being a citizen interacting with the police (or another citizen).  You still have to try to draw a line as to when deadly force is justified and when it isn’t, and the OP seems to completely evade that problem.  It implies that you just always defer to the police, because their job is dangerous.  I may not have the experience to expertly opine on where the line should be, but I am pretty sure there should be one.

    • #16
  17. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Robert C. J. Parry:

    The King Prawn:I suppose next our military will start bitching about war deaths and injuries.

    When one puts on a badge he signs away his life, not that of every citizen he meets.

    Having buried more friends and acquaintances than I care to remember between Iraq and Afghanistan, I think I know a thing or two about our war dead. And I think that we give our Soldiers in combat a great deal of leeway in dealing with the threats they face. I know I’ve called artillery and helicopter gun ships to deal with lightly armed Jihadis.

    But, I don’t think for a second that I “signed my life away” when I pledged an oath to my country. I certainly know the risks, but I would never send Soldiers into battle without all the support I could give them, and I would be offended if my commander asked that of me.

    Do you think police deserve commensurately less support? That their job should be more dangerous, in terms of their ability to react to threats?

    Police officers use force of any kind in less than 1% of arrests. Deadly force is measured in per-10,000 arrest ratios. That is hardly “every citizen.”

    Perhaps you should research some of factors that I cited to understand that perspective. Or do you think cops have a duty to ‘die in place’ like we would be aghast to ask of the military, and give all the benefit of the doubt to anyone who doesn’t readily admit to being a mugger, killer or molestor?

    I was initially tempted to “like” KP’s comment no. 1 but didn’t, because I didn’t like the “signs his life away” language.  That goes too far the other way.  To paraphrase the latest slogan, “Cop’s lives matter” too.  That needs to get weighed in the balance as well.  But given that citizen/officer interactions are sometimes unavoidably going to be adversarial, it seems to me conceptually that the goal must be guidelines that minimize unjustified harm to the extent possible — to both police and citizens — recognizing that poor choices on either side have the potential to do unjustified harm.

    • #17
  18. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Franco:

    I’d be interested in this story.

    I think there is far too much emphasis on officer safety and it creates an us/them mindset in too many cops. Ordinary citizens are seen as potential threats and this colors their interactions with law abiding citizens. When combined with the authoritarian license police have over us, it can create animosity. I no longer see police as my friend or ally. Too many negative encounters through my life and not enough positive ones. Oh. I must be a criminal of some sort then! No, I’m not. The role of police oficer has changed from public servant protecting citizens to vassal for the State to collect funds and intimidate anyone they encounter for the sake of their ‘safety.

    All cops aren’t bad, but why is it that cops think all of us citizens deserve to be treated like serfs?

    That’s an unfair overgeneralization.  No doubt it describes some officers, but it paints with far too broad a brush.

    • #18
  19. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Robert C. J. Parry:

    They can be safe, or they can be heroes. They can’t have both.

    So it’s not sufficient that they go to the active shooter? That they search for the armed robbery suspect? That they stop cars knowing they are reported stolen?

    They have to do that and be reckless about it to have your admiration? 53 killed last year wasn’t enough?

    That’s all fine, but harassing a lone woman at night for pulling over under a street light and calling 911 to verify she is being pulled over by an authentic officer is the kind of thing we simply should not tolerate from our public servants.

    • #19
  20. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Cato Rand: I didn’t like the “signs his life away” language.  That goes too far the other way.  To paraphrase the latest slogan, “Cop’s lives matter” too.

    The language is rather blunt, but law enforcement officers make the deliberate decision to be a shield for the public up to and including giving their lives in that duty. They make that decision the first day they pin on a badge. If all they really want is to be tax collectors for the welfare state then they do not deserve our respect. Cops lives matter, and the nobility of the vocation is in counting the potential cost and choosing to perform it anyway. That mindset I can respect and laud publicly.

    • #20
  21. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Robert C. J. Parry:

    In other words, my personal safety is not my top priority. If my community is threatened, I have to take risks to keep other people safe.

    To me, this is common sense.

    So, 53 officers feloniously killed last year is not sufficient risk?

    I’m not going to vouch for the numbers, but according to this, 374 plumbers/year died of asbestos exposure from 1960-1979.  I say that not because it’s necessarily gospel, but simply to make the point that life, and jobs, are never risk free.  I might live longer if I hadn’t spent the last 25 years of my life sitting on my *** writing legal briefs.  I’m not generally hostile to police, and again, I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy of each of those 53 deaths, but no, in the real world of many many risks and the inevitability of death, 53/year doesn’t sound like too many to me.  A police force willing to accept no risk really is worse than no police force at all.  We will never live in a world where no one will die keeping order.  I wish we could, but that’s not the way of mankind.  That’s where I think you take it too far.  You make an emotional appeal to the (genuine) tragedy of each death, but draw the wrong conclusion that whatever is necessary to prevent those deaths is justified.  It isn’t.  Concern for officer safety is justified up to a point, but it doesn’t justify everything.

    • #21
  22. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Cato Rand: Concern for officer safety is justified up to a point, but it doesn’t justify everything.

    Hear hear!

    To bring back a point from another post in the general realm, we shouldn’t pass laws we aren’t willing to kill to enforce or put the lives of police officers in jeopardy to enforce.

    • #22
  23. J. D. Fitzpatrick Inactive
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    Robert, thanks for this post. I think your links should be required reading for people who complain about the attitude cops take toward certain suspects.

    While the links don’t justify abusive behavior of the sort that some of the other respondents have described, they do justify the aggressive approach many cops take in so-called gray areas.

    • #23
  24. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Doug Watt: and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.

    Oh, good grief. This bilge is so irritating. When I hear this, I reply,”then find another line of work.”

    Is there any other occupation that has employees use this line?

    Grocery bagger: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    Shoe salesman: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    • #24
  25. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    I first thought some of these anti-police comments were so over the top that they must be meant ironically, but subsequent comments showed they were not.

    Evidently, each person’s attitudes about how police should comport themselves with non-threatening civilians is informed by his experiences. Mine have been entirely benign.

    Of course the policeman should be civil to the ordinary civilian. Trouble is, he doesn’t know whether a particular person he’s dealing with is ordinary or not, though that person’s outward affect is normal. He has every reason, and every right, to be wary of even the most seemingly unthreatening person, especially if that person is big enough and young enough to cause trouble even though unarmed, or if there are several people to deal with.

    I know that when I approach a policeman I mean him no harm. But does he know that?

    • #25
  26. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    Jimmy Carter:

    Doug Watt: and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.

    Oh, good grief. This bilge is so irritating. When I hear this, I reply,”then find another line of work.”

    Is there any other occupation that has employees use this line?

    Grocery bagger: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    Shoe salesman: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    I didn’t see too many grocery baggers or shoe sales persons wrestling around in the gutter with me at 0300 hours. I didn’t see them examining someone’s kids that had rope burns around their necks, or rolling up their sleeves and counting the cigarette burns on their arms. If they had been with me I would have taught them how to stay alive and not to stare into the abyss when they went home. When you have seen what I have seen then I’ll take your criticism seriously, until then you really have no idea what you are talking about.

    • #26
  27. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    Aaron Miller:

    The City of Houston recently flirted with the idea of paying individual police officers more to live in the neighborhoods they protect. What do you think of the idea?

    I see both sides of that coin. I think there are significant benefits to an officer knowing the neighborhood inherently, something that is tough to do in big city departments.

    However, the LAPD’s radical reforms of the 1950s under Chief Parker were directly in the opposite direction in order to avoid undo influence that was pervasive.  Also, I know many officers who live in the communities they police.  One, who lives in a city of over 100,000 people, will be sending his kids to a private high school because “I’m at (the public school) too often on business.”  Also, how often do you run into work colleagues in the grocery store? For a cop that has many implications.  The domestic violence or sexual assault victim from a few weeks ago (or having to go to their house and being recognized) is one scenario. The other is going out with your kids and running into violent suspect who wants revenge.

    Bringing communities and police officers closer is not that complex, but it also should not be built on reducing officer safety.

    • #27
  28. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    Cato Rand:

    Robert C. J. Parry:

    In other words, my personal safety is not my top priority. If my community is threatened, I have to take risks to keep other people safe.

    To me, this is common sense.

    So, 53 officers feloniously killed last year is not sufficient risk?

    I’m not going to vouch for the numbers, but according to this, 374 plumbers/year died of asbestos exposure from 1960-1979. I say that not because it’s necessarily gospel, but simply to make the point that life, and jobs, are never risk free. I might live longer if I hadn’t spent the last 25 years of my life sitting on my *** writing legal briefs. I’m not generally hostile to police, and again, I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy of each of those 53 deaths, but no, in the real world of many many risks and the inevitability of death, 53/year doesn’t sound like too many to me. A police force willing to accept no risk really is worse than no police force at all. We will never live in a world where no one will die keeping order. I wish we could, but that’s not the way of mankind. That’s where I think you take it too far. You make an emotional appeal to the (genuine) tragedy of each death, but draw the wrong conclusion that whatever is necessary to prevent those deaths is justified. It isn’t. Concern for officer safety is justified up to a point, but it doesn’t justify everything.

    That’s 53 intentionally killed (e.g. murdered) in 2014.  There were 118 who died as a result of their work, but none as a result of illness, according to this list.

    Now, as best I can see, the link you provided does not show 374/year any where in the 1960-1979 time frame.  In fact, it lists only 16 total in California for the whole 19 years.  (Please show me where, if I am wrong).  By contrast, in California (alone) there were 379 officers killed on the job in that 30-50 years ago time frame, 195 of them shot, stabbed or assaulted.  There were almost 4,000 killed nationwide in that time frame.

    And, most notably, your link about asbestos and mesothelioma is dated because — as a result of the danger of those products  — methods were changed to make plumbers safer.

    Wouldn’t it be rather callous of people to say “well, he made a buck installing plumbing, nobody made him take that job?”  Yet, those words exactly appear in these comments about cops.

    • #28
  29. Robert Parry Contributor
    Robert Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    Jimmy Carter:

    Doug Watt: and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.

    Oh, good grief. This bilge is so irritating. When I hear this, I reply,”then find another line of work.”

    Is there any other occupation that has employees use this line?

    Grocery bagger: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    Shoe salesman: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.

    Jimmy Carter:

    Doug Watt: and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.

    Oh, good grief. This bilge is so irritating. When I hear this, I reply,”then find another line of work.”

    Is there any other occupation that has employees use this line?

    Grocery bagger: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    Shoe salesman: “and above all the obligation to return home to my wife and kids the same way I left the house, upright and in one piece.”

    Could you direct me to a list of grocery baggers who have been intentionally targeted for murder because of their jobs?

    Can you tell me how often shoe salesmen face a choice of dealing with danger or risking the death of themselves or others?

    • #29
  30. Aloha Johnny Member
    Aloha Johnny
    @AlohaJohnny

    I see the lack of knowledge with the comments about the Gardner case in NYC.  Yes, his crime was minor, and yes the choke hold was probably wrong.  But what are the cops supposed to do?  If they see a 300 LB man breaking the law are they supposed to say “Well he is kinda big and bringing him down is going to be real fight, so let’s look the other way.”  Soon 300 lb men will stroll the streets with impunity.  Or should they say, “Selling Singles is a minor crime, so let’s not enforce it for anybody, or if somebody starts resisting, then we should let them go.”  Both Proffessors Yoo and Epstien seemed to be suggesting that Gardner should have been allowed to walk away from the officers attempting to arrest him.  

    What kind of incentive would that set up?  

    But I do think that police procedures should be reviewed.  We had a police shooting in my town where a 13 year old holding a fake AK 47 was killed by police — a tragedy all around.  The officer followed procedure and happened to be one of the best shots on the force.  However, the procedure was most likely wrong.  The police often have looser rules of engagement than our troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq for much of the war.  

    • #30

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