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Over the last two years, much of the national conversation has focused on problems in policing. The basic assumption is that use of force is grossly excessive and frequent. It’s not: Barely one percent of officers use deadly force annually – 80 percent never do.
But the substance of the positions of police “reformers” proves they are more interested in taking the risk out of criminal acts – pushing it onto cops and society – than addressing even the few incidents of truly unjustified police violence. “Reformers” really want to decriminalize crime.
In Pasadena, the case of Kendrec McDade has been front-and-center of this conversation and illustrates exactly this agenda.
McDade was killed by Pasadena Police Officers Jeffrey Newlen and Matthew Griffin late at on the night of March 24, 2012, following his involvement in a reported armed robbery. When Newlen and Griffin spotted McDade, he ran through a parking lot and narrow alley, then up a residential street. Newlen pursued on foot while Griffin maneuvered the car to cut-off McDade’s path. When McDade suddenly turned toward Griffin, he fired, as did Newlen.
The 19-year-old McDade, who was unarmed, died at a hospital. Only after the shooting was it discovered McDade was never armed and the “armed robbery” was merely a theft. (For more on that specific element of this incident, see my previous Ricochet post here).
The case drew outrage from many anti-police activists and “reformers.” A lengthy court battle ensued for release of a report on the incident from the Office of Independent Review.
The OIR’s 70-page report is a prime example of the real “reform” agenda. Notably, OIR is a private organization with seven attorneys as principals (one of whom is departing to monitor another agency). Of them, none lists any policing experience. But three were in criminal defense. In their analysis, Newlen and Griffin erred by pursuing McDade because they thought he was armed. Instead, OIR says, they should have held back and observed him until more officers arrived. And when he ran into the narrow alley, creating a potential trap, the OIR questioned why they continued the pursuit at all – since they knew it was dangerous. That is, the cops erred by being courageous.
So, the more dangerous a criminal may be, the more the police should be inclined to let him flee. While that would be just great for robbers, rapists and thieves, it seems doubtful their victims would concur.
Nowhere in the report does the OIR place the blame for McDade’s death on his decision to resist arrest, nor on the lie of the 911 caller. Nope, it’s all the cops fault, because they tried to capture a criminal.
They are hardly alone in this juxtaposition of responsibility.
In Cincinnati, former officer Ray Tensing now stands accused of murder. Tensing stopped motorist Sam DuBose for driving without a license plate. After distracting and delaying Tensing, DuBose started his car and attempted to flee. Tensing reached in to grab the keys as DuBose drove off, then shot him as his arm grasped DuBose’ seatbelt. Analysis of a bodycam video of the incident shows Tensing was pushed backwards 20 feet in two seconds – over 13 miles per hour.
So why charge Tensing with murder? Because by trying to stop DuBose, he created the danger. According to a report by Kroll, a politically-connected private investigations firm, Tensing erred by not “allowing DuBose to drive away.”
Again: police should let suspects flee.
The report goes all-in with the political narrative, asserting that Tensing wasn’t dragged by DuBose’s car. Rather, it claims, he was launched 20 feet backwards by his pistol’s recoil, a ludicrous suggestion to anyone with shooting experience.
In Los Angeles, the Police Commission found Officer Sharlton Wampler “out of policy” for killing Ezell Ford with a back-up gun, despite DNA proof Ford tried to disarm Wampler. Stunningly, the board found Wampler’s partner in-policy for the same shooting. Wampler’s error? Getting out of his car to talk to Ford without iron-clad probable cause.
If they’re in a Constitutional gray area, reformers deny cops the right to self-defense from murder.
Recently, the same board was outraged that not one of 1,365 allegations of racist policing could be proved. Commissioner Robert Saltzman called the findings “quite troubling and disappointing.” Imagine their reaction if a cop was “troubled and disappointed” that a few dozen robbery allegations against gang members couldn’t be substantiated by evidence.
The grind of these “reforms” is having an effect. The LAPD’s own figures show arrests were down 17% in 2015 compared to 2013, while crime is rising: property crimes up 7% in that time, homicide 10%, rape 35%, and aggravated assault 55%. (You can see the details here.)
And it is making policing more dangerous. A great illustration of this came in late December when a Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy confronted a suspect armed with a knife on a busy street in daylight, with citizens nearby. Instead of stopping the armed man, the deputy retreated backward more than 50 feet, ultimately tripping onto his back. Only after exposing himself (and the nearby citizens) to grave danger did the deputy fire as the man lunged at him from inches away, according to a bystander’s video.
Whatever the reason, that deputy reduced the risk to a criminal by transferring it to himself and the people of Camarillo.
Cops make mistakes and there are undoubtedly violent racists who don’t belong in their ranks. But if error and courage are deemed unacceptable in our cops, the risk of their jobs — and the crooks’ — will be passed along to you.
This post is an expansion of an article that ran in Sunday’s Pasadena Star News, and adds additional details, examples and supporting links.