• Handcuffed Does Not Mean Harmless

    Suspects handcuffed by police are helpless, right–harmless? Well, let’s see about that. I’ve been assaulted by handcuffed suspects—every cop with some time on has been. Suspects have spit at, scratched, bitten, kicked, head-butted, stolen patrol cars, stabbed, shot, and killed police officers—all while handcuffed.

    Still, police chiefs often discipline or even fire officers for using force against the so-called “helpless” handcuffed prisoners who’d assaulted them. Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole recently fired my friend, Adley Shepherd, from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) despite his force being applied within a split-second of a suspect having kicked him in the head and in spite of SPD’s lead defensive tactics training instructor commenting, “I thought he did it perfectly.” How else can an officer perform and still keep his job if “perfectly” is not good enough. This expert assessment did not come from a liberal city council member, a Black Lives Matter activist, or a police chief appointed by a liberal mayor–it came from the guy who teaches this stuff to cops.

    Of course departments should be concerned about police officers using excessive force and punish it where it truly occurs. But is any force excessive just because the resisting suspect is handcuffed? Simple logic tells us a handcuffed suspect who assaults an officer is, by definition, not harmless.

    We have to ask this question: Was the officer’s response reasonable for the specific circumstances? An officer must bring an uncooperative suspect under control, quickly. I once had a handcuffed suspect kick out the rear passenger window of my patrol car. Just imagine if such a kick were to my head or face? The force of a kick is greater than that of a punch. It’s even worse if the assailant is wearing hard shoes or boots.

    With all the cop ambushes (four more souls taken from us, yesterday), an officer cannot afford distractions. A part of bringing a suspect (handcuffed or not) under control includes gaining physical compliance, either voluntarily or by force. An officer has certain use-of-force options with any combative suspect. Should certain force options be unavailable just because the suspect is handcuffed, regardless of their level of resistance?

    One of the officer’s force options is to strike a combative suspect with an impact (or body) weapon (hand, foot, etc.). If a suspect is not handcuffed and kicks an officer, you would probably think it reasonable that a punch would be one possible force option used. So, if a handcuffed suspect kicks an officer, what’s the difference? It’s not like Officer Shepherd continued to beat the suspect; he only struck her once to prevent her from assaulting him again and to bring her under control. And just try doing that while the combative suspect is leaning against the backseat, hands behind her back, with perfect leverage to kick the officer.

    Another factor is any human being’s reaction to pain. Pain does not distinguish between that inflicted by a handcuffed or non-handcuffed person, kicking a police officer in the head. Within the heat of a human’s response to pain, the initial force used, due to adrenaline and stress, is likely to be higher than intended. Human beings avoid pain and do not wish to have it repeated.

    We also need to remember it is the handcuffed suspect who triggered the officer’s use-of-force. The suspect committed a felony by assaulting a police officer, to which the officer has no choice but to respond.

    Besides the natural reaction to pain, one has to consider a cop’s response to a suspect’s physical resistance. As long as a suspect is not under control, both the suspect and officer remain at a higher risk of injury. A lieutenant once told me that officer safety requires an officer to end any resistance as soon as possible because anything can happen when officers don’t have suspects under control. A distracted officer is a target for anyone in the vicinity who might take offense to a cop using force to facilitate an arrest. Does that sound likely these days?

    What would you do?

    Put yourself in the officers shiny black shoes: You have dedicated your life to serving and protecting your community for almost a decade. You arrive to investigate a domestic violence incident. You have determined the primary aggressor who will go to jail. You handcuff the suspect and while placing her in your patrol car, she leans back against the seat and kicks you in the face—with her boot.

    This stuns you, and you react to the pain and non-compliance by punching the suspect in the face–once–to prevent another assault, deescalate the situation, and bring the combative suspect under control. It works. The suspect’s assault and your reaction occurred within seconds of each other. The department’s head defensive tactics trainer, the person responsible for your training, has determined your use-of-force was, “perfect” (you performed precisely as your training taught you).

    Yet, your police chief, after months of deliberations, has decided she knows better what force was necessary and proper than the officer involved did in that split second and knows better than the person she has in charge of teaching her officers how to overcome combative suspects in myriad dangerous circumstances.

    So, yet another police officer is sacrificed on the altar of left wing political correctness. Seattle’s police chief commented on Shepherd’s case, “Common sense alone was sufficient to determine that the level of force used was not reasonable or necessary.” Sounds more like uncommon nonsense to me.

    It would be interesting to see how Chief O’Toole would have reacted if she had been the arresting officer and that suspect had kicked her in the face (I know, a chief of a large city make an arrest, hah!). Interesting how her “common sense” does not match the common sense of patrol officers who confront these situations daily with only a split-second to respond. And what about her own police defensive tactics instructors who go beyond common sense and teach officers “best practice,” specific, techniques on ways to counter combative suspects?

    How do you think police defensive tactics trainers feel when the police chief fires officers for using techniques they taught in training? Why should officers trust anything they learn in defensive tactics if applying those tactics in the real world gets them fired–or prosecuted? Why should cops trust their leaders at all?

  • Defending Democrats–Well, Sort of

    Hold on to your hats. I’m going to defend Democrats. This may seem a bit odd coming from me, especially only days after Hillary Clinton suffered such a stunning defeat. I consider the defeat well deserved, if for nothing else, for her part in what four Americans suffered in Bengazi. Her myriad other alleged crimes may be illegal and unethical, but what happened in Bengazi appears to have been immoral. As they say, time will tell.

    Of those she’s been accused of, I don’t know what crimes she’s actually committed or policies she’s violated. She’s an American entitled to due process. However, just the amount of information that she and President Obama still haven’t released regarding the attack on the Bengazi consulate staggers credulity. We still don’t even know what Clinton and Obama were doing during much of the Bengazi attack. This reality is not fabricated by her detractors; this empirical information exists, but for some strange reason remains unanswered.

    Where I’ll defend the Democrats is against the hypocritical radicals protesting President-elect Trump’s election because their side didn’t win (Waaaaahhhhh!). I can easily imagine what those civic-minded protesters would be saying about political right people if they dared to protest Hillary had she won. It’s only academic, anyway, as the right doesn’t hit the streets in wild-eyed protests. The right would simply have prepared for the end, having made an unconscious, collective mass suicide pact in case she won! Well, at least we wouldn’t have watched the news for a few months, after which strongly worded editorials would begin to appear in the nation’s newspapers. The right sucks at disrupting society—and, that’s a good thing.

    But seriously, those violent protesters aren’t Democrats. Some of their political desires just happen to intersect with Democrats rather than Republicans. It’s similar to why some of the ultra-right groups’ wishes run tangent to some Republican causes. For example, Democrats tend to want open borders; Republicans want strict control of our borders. It’s not surprising that those on the extreme right, who’d prefer only certain white immigration, would prefer the party opposed to open borders.

    As much as I have a problem with the modern Democrat Party, even President Obama, Senators Warren and Sanders, and Secretary Clinton were magnanimous in defeat and showed patriotism with their statements of concession and congratulations to Mr. Trump. What was in their hearts, I can’t know. But I can appreciate the outward demonstration of respect for our electoral system they conveyed.

    The Trump protesters would have you believe that they are ordinary, mainstream Democrats who are fed up with an oppressive system and were impelled to get off their couches and hit the streets in defense of democratic ideals against a xenophobic tyrant. Yeah, right! These are perennial malcontents. And, unfortunately, statements by Democrats such as President Obama and Secretary Clinton, calling Trump a racist, misogynist, generally a hater, and associating him with the KKK, can’t help but enflame and legitimize the rioters. Hell, if Trump truly were everything the left says of him, I might be out protesting too. Problem is, he didn’t become these things in all the decades he’s been in the public eye. He only became a “degenerate racist womanizer” after he began running for president.   

    The protesters are perennial agitators for whatever cause comes down the left wing pike. They are Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists who clambered out of their parent’s basements, shook off the pot induced fog, grabbed an appropriate sign and mask, and then slithered into the protest pit with the rest of the anti-social vipers. These are poisonous people who are not simply on the other side of political issues; they want nothing less than to bring America down so they can start over in creating their own warped version of America. Imagine what that Utopia would look like.

    I actually feel bad for true, “old-school” Democrats for what their leaders have done by dragging their party so far left. When I was a kid, adults I knew, Republican and Democrat, revered JFK. Today, the Democrat Party would be unrecognizable to President Kennedy. If the Democrats are smart, they’ll do what the Republicans just did. Go outside the establishment for leadership.

    Oh, wait. They tried that with Senator Sanders. But the Democrat Party establishment, especially Hillary Clinton, slapped Bernie down like he was a peasant attempting to rise above his “station.” The sad thing is, Bernie helped them do it. Where was he in the final weeks? Throwing flaccid support to Hillary here and there, leaving his supporters grasping air where there was once substance.

    Though he is a socialist, a belief I abhor, the Vermont senator was honest and was not establishment—well, until he knuckled under to them at the expense of people who believed in him. What did they promise him? Doesn’t matter, now. It’s a promise they won’t be able to deliver. What a disappointment for Democrats looking for change that he let you all down. Democrats should have stuck with Bernie the way Republicans stuck with Trump. Fortunately, Trump didn’t abandon his followers—and that seems to have made the difference.