Shocked. Pissed. Stunned. I recently started reading an article which announced that the Madison, WI city council instructed the police department to change the policy regarding use of deadly force. The revised policy instructs officer to exhaust other options before using a gun with a subject.
This group of self-anointed experts has decided that they are smarter and more insightful that the U.S. Supreme Court and the wisdom in their rulings: Tennessee vs. Garner and Graham vs. Connor.
Given the very progressive nature of Madison, it is likely that NONE of the Council members has ever held a gun nor have they had some bad dude threaten their lives with one. Friggin’ awesome.
How fast can the Madison cops find work elsewhere?
The Assistant Chief of Police said the new language puts the department’s policies on use of force in harmony with bigger agencies as well as the International Association of Police Chiefs and the Police Executive Research Forum.
I wonder if that information will be shared with the attendees at the funeral of the next dead Madison cop. Maybe the Assistant Chief can read it to next critically injured officer as he lays recovering from the wounds inflicted by a scumbag in his hospital bed. I’m certain knowing that IACP and PERF approve will be of tremendous comfort to the officer – and his family.
The Chief went on to say the new policy tells officers their primary duty is the “protection and preservation of all human life — including the lives of individuals being taken into custody.”
Hmmmm. So, if it’s MY life or the life of the dirtbag, which one gets preference? Oh, I guess that wonderful new policy doesn’t speak to that question.
Most law enforcement agencies have two sides: operational and administrative. In super-small departments, cops must be able to work on both-sides and move back and forth quickly and easily. No doubt.
As agencies get bigger, things change.
Most new hires start out in uniform, working in the Patrol Bureau. There are higher ranks and special functions on the operation side of the house. Think sergeant or lieutenant in the detective bureau or the narcotics unit.
As guys get older and grow tired of the demands of dealing with the dirtballs of society, they frequently become administrators. You know them: records bureau, budget/finance, research & planning, PIO and of course, the Chief’s office.
Once a person is on that side of the wall, they might as well be managing a new car dealership or the local Dunkin’ Donuts. Oh yeah, they give cursory attention to what’s happening with operations. They even make an occasional decision.
But, in reality, if you suddenly put them in a patrol car and told them to go handle a crash or take a report on a simple A&B, they wouldn’t know where to start. Hell, they probably couldn’t even fire up the car computer. Who are we kidding, here?
Now, we’re going to ask a cluster of these administration jockeys to make policy on the finer points of the use of deadly force for guys working on a side of the agency, doing a job they haven’t done in years. Have we gone nuts? I’m afraid so.
Now, you might think that things would be different when it comes to the big, high-powered national law enforcement organizations. Think of groups like the International Association of Chiefs or possibly the Police Executive Research Forum. Sadly, it’s worse.
The folks running PERF are the chiefs of very large agencies, like: Denver, Seattle, Miami Beach, Tucson and New York City to name a few. Currently, there are 17,985 cop shops in the U.S. The average number of cops per agency: 36.
Denver has 1,459 cops; New York City has upwards of 40,000 cops. Most likely it has been YEARS since these administrators have been NEAR a patrol car (except to walk past one). How relevant are their opinions on use of force when applied to the cops in George West, TX which has a total of four officers on its roster?
THE WAR ZONE
The world of a street cop is often compared to that of members of our military who are in an active war zone. Differences are acknowledged:
- Constitutional rights
- Rules of engagement are different
- In a war zone, it’s 24×7. For those in police work, we generally work in shifts with planned start and stop times.
Without question, most of the encounters a cop has with members of the public are NOT of a life-and-death nature. Here, in the homeland, most encounters are civilized. Unless we have firm knowledge otherwise, cops assume that the people they encounter don’t want to harm them.
But, occasionally, the subject(s) involved ‘flip the switch’ and convert a peaceful scene into a combat face-off. To be certain, that determination rests solely with the civilian subject involved. The cop can only respond and react.
Simply said, it comes down to this: KILL or BE KILLED.
The basics on the Rules of Engagement for street cops start in the Constitution. That is followed by statutory law, case law and it can be fine-tuned with agency policy.
Then, there are certain ‘rules of existence’ learned by most humans in their formative years:
- Watch out for cars when you cross the street.
- Don’t mess around sticking things in electrical outlets
- Beware of mean wild animals.
Those are a few of them. We learned them by the time we were five years old. Then, there are some of the more abstract concepts like the respect for authority.
Whether we like it or not, cops are often called upon to teach remedial classes on the last topic when on the street and dealing with miscreants.
When it comes to the use of deadly force on the street, this issue has many lessons coming from the Supreme Court. Two of the most notable are:
Tennessee vs. Garner which establishes that force must be objectively reasonable.
Graham vs. Connor establishes an officer’s right to use and when to limit deadly force on a fleeing subject.
WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?
Along comes PERF. They decided, on their own, to rewrite the rules about the use of deadly force. Hmmmm.
Remember, these are the folks who were cops at some time in the distant past. The current lives in spent balancing budgets, designing new layouts for their offices, attending city council meetings and listening to lawyers telling them how to avoid liability.
Doing real cop work? Long since forgotten.
They decided that the new Term Du Jour will be: DE-ESCALATE.
PERF wants cops everywhere to calm down. Talk nice to the bad guys. Have everyone at violent scenes just close their eyes and count to ten. Why maybe, we can hold hands and sing a nice song together.
In Madison, the geniuses on the city council expects their cops to actually try all of the options first, before pulling a gun. Simply believing various items won’t work (based on their training and experience) just ain’t good enough.
So, you arrive at a DV call. Both parties are on scene. You enter the house and see the male half methodically loading rounds into a magazine for a semi-auto pistol. You tell him to drop it. He doesn’t.
You go hands on. He pulls away. You tell him again. He continues loading the magazine. You get your baton and give him a few strikes to the knee. He doesn’t flinch. You tell him to drop the gear AGAIN. Again, he ignores you.
This goes on while you try OC spray and then your TASER.
By now, he has the magazine in the weapon. You are yelling at him to drop the gun.
ONLY NOW can you draw your weapon and fire based on the new policy.
Too bad. He’s already fired on you and you’re on the ground writhing in pain, taking your last few breaths.
Great policy, eh?
REAL WORLD EVIDENCE
This whole ‘de-escalation’ concept is pure bullshit.
As a practical matter, cops have been putting it into practice for a long time. Decisions about when and where to use it have been made on a case-by-case basis.
POLICE Magazine recently published an extensive article on this topic written by researcher Brian Landers. I encourage every cop to read it. Following are a few choice statements from that article.
- While these concepts [de-escalation] are practical and effective in some situations, they are useless and even dangerous in others.
- De-escalation policies could be confusing officers about when and how to use force in dealing with dangerous situations.
- PERF and agencies seeking to align with PERF have offered to create a “higher standard than the Constitution” through policy, but have failed to define what that is and how it is to be judged.
PERF and its elitist leaders seem to believe they have some preordained right / duty to override the United States Supreme Court on this crucial issue.
Let them stick to stuff they know: kissing the asses of the politicians at whose pleasure they keep their jobs.
WILL YOU SACRIFICE YOURSELF ON THE
ALTAR OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?
Landers did a statistical analysis on the issue of de-escalation. The issue: is officer safety affected when an agency adopts a policy of de-escalation?
Landers admits that more studies are needed over longer periods of time. He says his should not be viewed as a definitive statement to endure forever. I appreciate his candor. But, for now, his is all we have.
Landers studied a group of five agencies in the years prior to any policy change and the years after adopting de-escalation policies.
After adopting de-escalation policies:
A COP’S LIKELIHOOD OF BEING KILLED SOARED BY 2.5 TIMES.
A COP’S LIKELIHOOD OF BEING INJURED ROCKETED UP BY 12 TIMES.
The question comes down to this: are you willing to die for the sake of the politically correct bullshit that has been fabricated by people who have NO STAKE in the issue?
Think about it.
As I was researching this material, I began wondering, “Where did the demand for de-escalation come from?”
I cannot know the specific incidents. But, it’s safe to generalize that it relates to incidents where a subject, “flipped the switch” and turned it from a cordial encounter into one of combat. That “flip” isn’t of the cop’s making. It happened because of the behavior of some thug who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) follow the rules.
Yes, there are also the mentally ill. Cops have been forced into the role of being a medical provider much too often. I didn’t sign up for that and I don’t want to do it. I didn’t sign up to be a fire fighter – and I don’t want to do that, either. Find a different stooge to handle this stuff.
From this man’s perspective: if you choose to do stupid stuff, be prepared for the consequences. I’m not going to feel sorry for you.
If you expect me to put the value of some thug’s life on par with my own, you’ve got the wrong guy. If he threatens my life, he’s dead. Pure and simple.
You can take your politically correct nonsense and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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