• De-escalation: It’s Nothing New to Police

    You’ve got to admire the leftist gymnastics ideologues perform to arrive at a false determination such as, “the police are broken,” and then manufacture “problems” to be “fixed.” Many times these “problems” are simply tactics, training or policies with which the left disagree. One such “problem” currently trending is the concept of de-escalation. Cop critics and crisis entrepreneurs are now pedaling the idea that cops have been automatically resorting to force rather than de-escalation to resolve potentially violent confrontations. They argue that cops should be trained to use de-escalation first before resorting to force. Sorry to disappoint the cop haters, but cops are already trained to use de-escalation techniques—first—whenever reasonable.

    How ludicrous is this issue? As a retired cop who worked a sector with numerous mental health facilities let me assure you that de-escalation is nothing new to cops. De-escalation has always been and will always be a cop’s first instinct, although it’s not always possible. For example, it’s rather difficult to verbally de-escalate a person charging at you with a knife. Instructors taught de-escalation in the academy when I was there twenty-three years ago, and it was taught long before that. De-escalation is also just plain common sense, the natural inclination for intelligent people who prefer the path of least resistance—in this case, literally.

    Cop critics are fabricating a false dichotomy (imagine that) where cops are seen as having a choice between de-escalation and using force and are choosing force over de-escalation, as if force is preferred or that force and de-escalation are mutually exclusive.

    De-escalation and force are both legitimate law enforcement tactics, and each has its place in the use-of-force continuum, which progresses from officer presence at one end to lethal force at the other. When cop haters apply the false dichotomy mentioned above to police officers, they express their ignorance and fantasy view of cops as knuckle-dragging caricatures who are out to brutalize the people they serve. Now, you tell me: which group, the cops or the cop haters, has a problem that needs to be fixed?

    Well, this is timely: As I am writing this blog, I am distracted by a story on KING 5 Morning News regarding Seattle police officers (including an instructor) who were video recorded during a training session discussing DOJ-influenced “de-escalation” policy changes. In Seattle’s Orwellian fashion, it seems Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is now busy determining whether or not the officers involved in the discussion (including an instructor) should be officially investigated. Investigated?

    Investigated for what, you ask? Investigated for expressing the “wrong” opinions and using pertinent, though perhaps exaggerated for effect, anecdotes to elaborate on their points. Seems that any attempt to express a view contrary to the official party line will not be tolerated by this regime. After all, is it possible a police officer who actually works the streets might have something valuable to add to the “training” discussion? As for the instructor, he simply commented for attendees not to “shoot the messenger” and that the training was coming from the DOJ. I would wonder why he’s even tacitly cooperating rather than working the streets. Although the conventional wisdom held by cops is it’s harder to get into trouble if you work anywhere but in patrol. Harder, yes but, as we see in this instructor’s case, not impossible. Vigorous debate and discussion is anathema in Seattle. The leftist’s views are legitimate, and anyone who disagrees is engaging in hate speech or guilty of some “-ism.”

    How can any training be effective when officers are threatened by their superiors with official investigation, which can lead to discipline, just for asking the “wrong” questions or offering legitimate, albeit contrary, points? Then again, we should not forget that we’re not talking about legitimate law enforcement training. This is pure, leftist, political indoctrination, in furtherance of a de-facto federalization of Seattle’s police department. It’s only disguised as law enforcement training.    

  • Rainbow Colors.

    In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage and the myriad rainbow colored, well, everything under the rainbow including, the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower and the White House, I was wondering if anyone has seen posted a rainbow colored Confederate battle flag. Just sayin’

  • DOJ: Lets its Friends Drive Home Drunk.

    This morning I heard Dave Bose, on his KTTH AM 770 radio program, describe our present reality in America, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obamacare rewrite rescue, as having walked through the “Looking Glass.” How perfect! Living in Bizarro World, as I’ve put it, provides a similar context, but Alice’ looking glass lends the entire mess a poetic patina. Seems, somehow, to soften the blow—or blows—that keep coming, it appears, day-after-day.

    On the other side of the “reality” mirror, one of the warped elements we find is Obama’s DOJ and what substitutes for impartiality in America today. As we all know, the DOJ has refused, time after time, to prosecute people with whom it agrees while it has earned a reputation for zealously prosecuting political opponents.

    Having just retired from the police department last year, I have to ask: How is that any different from me, as a police officer letting someone “off” after catching him or her committing a felony because he or she is a conservative or libertarian . Or, letting someone drive home drunk, after giving them a break on a DUI, because he or she is on my side of the political aisle. Or, to the contrary, actively seeking to “catch” and cite or arrest someone because I disagree with him or her politically? I think I may have sprained my brain attempting to resolve the difference.

    The context may be different, but the socio-legal argument is the same—playing favorites—special treatment—inequity. This goes way beyond prosecutorial discretion. And I’m not talking about a cop letting a family member or friend slide for a simple infraction, for which some officers have been sanctioned to the delight of many on the left, but about serious transgressions such as Lois Lerner, allegedly, committed while heading the Exempt Organizations Unit at the IRS in actively targeting the current administration’s political opponents. In a free democratic republic such as ours, isn’t that among the most egregious crimes against not only the Americans targeted but against the entire idea of American liberty?

    Lately, I’ve been advising my friends who have concluded the American sky is falling, and we have no recourse, to put things in perspective. For example, it’s not as bad as the civil war era, which threatened to destroy the American experiment of a government of the people. Nevertheless, I understand, and commiserate with, their perspective. With a senate that initially ran on Harry Reid’s wormy rules changes to pass major, single-party legislation and now is run in large part by presidential edict, including altering laws at will and on whim, it’s getting much more difficult to shed a positive light on America’s present sociopolitical condition. Still, I am maintaining hope for our nation—at least until I wake up one day in November, 2016 and discover, to my abject horror, that our new president has a D next to her name.

  • So, You Think You Can Do Police Work Better Than a Cop?

    While every organization can improve, law enforcement agencies included, to essentially use it as an excuse to federalize local law enforcement is contrary to our federal system. What happens when the feds interfere is that society is no longer looking at what is right for law enforcement, generally, but rather what is right for, in this case, liberal Democrat ideology. There is a sage old adage that proffers: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Another adage also comes to mind: A society/community will get the police force it deserves.

    I’ll ask you, regarding the McKinney, Texas police officer at the out-of-control pool party (and, without assuming the officer’s actions were right or wrong): What would you have done in the officer’s place? Now, while your busy fabricating a solution while sitting in the safety of your computer, tablet or smart phone, keep this little tidbit in mind: assume the girl refuses to comply with any lawful command YOU give her. Often times, in people’s minds they substitute what actually happened to the cop with what they feel certainly would have happened if they were to handle the situation instead. Amazing how much goes right in your head. Often, people feel as though they would have the “magic” words that would have made the suspect/subject comply. Cops wish.

    This is why I asked you, while you’re building your own mental scenario, to assume she never complies. If you need this person to cooperate, after a demonstrable history of refusing to do so after many police commands, you are left with few options, none of them pretty. You can let her leave (although, I don’t know why she would, when she hasn’t up to now), which diminishes police authority and respectability. Her behavior has determined that physical force is the only practical and reasonable alternative left to the cops.

    Civilized society simply cannot allow her, or anyone, to interfere with law enforcement with impunity. People simply cannot pick and choose the police commands they will obey. Think about this for a moment. Cops don’t have time to debate or discuss police actions with everyone. Police officers are taught to be aware of their 360 (360 degrees around them) for potential attack. This is why a cop needs to get a situation under control as soon as possible. This reduces the chance of officer and citizen injury. Add this to your scenario. What is happening out of your field of view, behind your back? Are you willing to bet your wellbeing or life that there is no threat there? Many injured and dead officers have done just that… to their peril and tragedy. I’d be most interested in hearing any (reasonable, please) alternatives.

  • Police Use of Force Will Never Look Good.

    Physical actions cops take when attempting to arrest people who are resisting arrest, especially teenaged girls, the disabled, or the elderly, will never look good—never! Did I say, never? However, it should not be ignored that had the girl complied with police officers’ initial commands (the police told her several times to leave), as she is legally required to do, force would not have been necessary.

    It bother’s me that Casebolt’s police chief, who has handled this better than most, initially, rather than waiting for at least a substantive review of events, cast his officer to the wolves by saying his actions were, “indefensible.” My goodness, even if Casebolt overreacted, indefensible is going too far. The teen girl in question suffered no injury. How, “indefensible” could it have been?

    Such early premature and definite conclusions by a police chief can affect an officer’s right to fair treatment. While the chief had made his assessment, reasonable police officers were still discussing the officer’s actions and no clear consensus has been reached—even today it’s not entirely settled among cops. Good respectable cops fall on both sides of this issue, each for valid reasons. To real cops this situation is not as clear-cut as it might seem to non-cops and political appointee, no-longer-real-cops, such as so many police chiefs. We’ve had similar police chiefs in Seattle with similar lack of prudence when commenting on officer actions after high profile, politicized incidents. The chiefs are almost always, inevitably, found to have been wrong. But it sounds good to certain, loud, segments of the public with whom they seek to ingratiate themselves.

    The fact that Casebolt had already responded to two suicide calls earlier in his shift points out the unique nature of police work. In what other job are you required to respond to a person (or two) who’s taken (or attempted to take) his or her own life, and then respond to 150 out-of-control teenagers at a pool party?

    In my book, Is There a Problem, Officer?, I write about an incident to emphasize this point. One Christmas season, I responded to a woman who’d been stabbed in the abdomen by a man during a robbery in her home while her ten-year-old son hid behind their Christmas tree. After arresting the subject, my partner and I performed CPR on the dying woman. Medics arrived, and when they turned her over, we learned that the victim had also been stabbed five times in the back. Sadly, she died. On the way back to my precinct after writing my statement at the Homicide Unit, I had to make an unavoidable traffic stop. From homicide arrest, attempted life-saving measures and murder investigation, to a mundane traffic stop. This is an aspect of police work most people fail to consider when criticizing officer actions. In most jobs, if someone dies at work, by accident or medical emergency, the shop or offices closes for the day and employees are sent home to deal with their emotions. Cops go back to work!

    Disproportionate public, and media, critique is what happens when police “accountability” becomes political. Have the police critics ever stopped to think that they might be trying to “fix” something that ain’t broke? Of course not. Ideological people don’t stop to think—it’s too dangerous. And, until everyone believes as they do, nothing will ever be “fixed.”

     

  • When Cop Supporters Don’t “Get It,” They Help the Cop Haters Hate Cops.

    People think they understand police work—they sincerely do, and I’m glad some try. However, cops know that people don’t understand police work—they sincerely don’t. I don’t know of another profession where more people profess to know better how to do the job than those trained to do it.

    Two elements are essential if a community truly wants better relations with its police:

     

    1.  Better public education about what police do—how and why.

     

    2.  Give cops the benefit of the doubt.

     

    Unless you have done police work, not a ride-along or two for a few hours or even an entire shift but daily or nightly for an extended amount of time, you can never fully appreciate what society requires of its cops.

    Even people who support cops sometimes fail to understand the work, and it’s reflected in their comments. For example, Fox News Channel anchor, Megyn Kelly, who I consider a major cop supporter, after viewing the video where McKinney, Texas police officer, David Eric Casebolt attempted to subdue a female teenager who was resisting his commands to obey, called his actions, “brutal.” Does she realize that most cops watching may have thought, at the most, that the officer was a bit, exuberant, but to call it brutal is an insult to those who have legitimately been brutalized. After all, this “brutality,” resulted in no injuries. It just looked bad—it always does and always will.

    To be effective language should be accurate. This points out the problem the police have with educating the public. If a top-rated, intelligent and talented news anchor who generally supports the police can be swayed by how something “appears,” just imagine what cop-haters will do with such incidents.

  • Ordinary People Cannot Understand Police Work.

    People, generally, don’t have a clue about what cops do! And, while that is not their fault, failing to give cops the benefit of the doubt is dangerous for society.

    Many well-meaning people say they support the police, but until people truly understand the unique nature of police work, they cannot properly assess it. Unfortunately, non-law enforcement people aren’t capable of fully understanding police work; it’s just not possible. Unless they’ve been to a police academy and have spent years and decades on the streets actually committing law enforcement, they can never understand. This is why it is so important to understand that they can only work to understand the nature of the job and then give cops the benefit of the doubt they deserve.

    Fox News Channel’s Brian Kilmeade demonstrated this the other night on an evening news commentary program. When asked to comment on a particular high profile police action, Kilmeade answered that he had not attended the police academy, is not a cop, and could not fathom what decisions the cop was facing at the time of the incident. He gave the officer the respect of an initial benefit of the doubt. To the contrary, the political left too often give cops the detriment of certainty, without the nuisance of waiting for an investigation. If, after a thorough investigation is completed, an officer is found to have acted intentionally improperly or illegally, then gloves off. Until then, cops deserve the benefit of the doubt. Once people accept they can never fully understand police work, society will be on its way to a better relationship with their police.