• Bellevue School District: Contempt for Cops Day

    It’s a wonder SNL hasn’t done a skit about the perpetual lefty demonstrations. Talk about a target-rich environment for comedy. However, the protesters are politically left, so… Try turning on the news these days, local or national, without seeing a leftist protest held against… whatever!

    New day, new cause. Just reverse the signs. “Hooray for liberal women!” Switch! “Down with conservative women!” Switch! “Sorry, we meant, ‘Hooray for Liberal WOMXN” (Note: Don’t try to find it in the dictionary).

    Reminds me of Marlon Brando in the Wild One: A girl ask Brando, “Hey, Johnny. What are you rebelling against?” Brando answers, “Whadda ya got?”

    My police career at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct was punctuated by left-wing demonstrations: APEC, WTO, Anarchists; Communists, Socialists, Labor Unions; Marijuana, Illegal Immigration, Occupy Wall Street, and… whadda ya got.

    The last couple years were marked by nearly weekly, sometimes daily, marches by lefty agitators dissatisfied with… whadda ya got. As long as it went against traditional American values, the specifics didn’t matter. Didn’t even matter if most protesters knew nearly nothing about the issue at hand—as long as “their team” said it was right. 

    Today, yet another demonstration: The Bellevue (WA) School District is sponsoring a “Day of Action,” encouraging its students to wear Black Lives Matter (BLM) t-shirts, thus honoring a blatant anti-police, leftist (Marxist) organization. This from a public school district paid for by ALL American taxpayers.

    Think about it: supporting BLM, an organization that continues to promote the “hands up, don’t shoot” mythology and perpetuate the lie that there exists an epidemic of American law enforcement officers wrongly shooting young black men. It is also an organization that continues to disqualify some victims, such as those innocents gunned down in Chicago’s—truly epidemic—gang/drug violence, whose black lives do not seem to matter. At least, not to BLM.

    Rather than sponsoring support for Black Lives Matter why don’t they call it what it is? Contempt for Cops Day.

  • “Without Malice and/or in Good Faith” is Necessary when Judging Police Actions

    Setting aside that making life and death decisions in split seconds is one of the most difficult things for any police officer, what’s all this noise about changing Washington law to make it “easier” to prosecute cops for using deadly force?

    People in every profession make mistakes. But in some jobs, mistakes can mean people die. Perhaps mistakes that lead to death should never happen, but in real life, they simply do.

    The way I read the law change proposal, advocates want to remove the “malice” and “good faith,” elements from the prosecutor’s requirements to convict a police officer. Meaning, they have to prove the officer acted maliciously (evil intent) in killing a person or that the officer did not act in good faith—knew his or her actions were wrong.

    This is what is scary for a police officer: If the language were changed, an officer could have acted without malice and in good faith yet still be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter.

    Put yourself in the officer’s place:

    Let’s say you’re an officer, it’s dusk—almost dark, on an early winter evening, and a robbery victim flags you down. The victim is pointing to a fleeing man and yelling, “He took my iPhone, and he’s got a gun!” You chase the robbery suspect who runs across the street and then between the houses. You continue to pursue with the suspect in sight. You broadcast the suspect’s description and direction of travel over your radio. Then you lose sight of the suspect as he rounds the corner to the back of a house. You slow as you approach the corner of the building to avoid being ambushed.  

    You slowly round the corner. You see a young man matching the suspect’s description crouched near some shrubbery in a corner of a fenced yard. You pull your gun and command, “Show me your hands!” The man does not comply. Instead he asks you what you’re doing in his yard. You command the man show you his hands several more times, but the suspect still refuses to show his hands. As you tell the man once more to show his hands, he yells that he doesn’t have to and aggressively points an object at you. In the low light and based on the suspect you’re chasing reportedly being armed, the object could be a gun. Would you bet your life that it isn’t a gun? You fire your sidearm, killing the man.

    Later, investigators discovered that the man shot was not the suspect. Evidence shows the real suspect had run through the yard and jumped the fence and continued running. The deceased man actually lived at the house. Investigators don’t know if the man saw the suspect run through his yard. The object the man had pointed at the officer was a garden trowel.

    This is nothing but a pure tragedy. It can’t be described any other way. If you, the officer, were white and the homeowner black, it also would become a political calamity. Now, there are a many elements to consider here, but let’s stay within the realm of changing the “malice” and “good faith” language in the current law.

    Clear thinking people would instantly recognize the nature of the tragedy here and understand you had no choice but to shoot. However, these days we are not dealing with only clear thinking individuals. We are dealing with anti-police hysteria.

    You obviously did not have any malice, as you simply responded to a victim’s call for help—you did your job. You also clearly acted in good faith as you had a valid complaint from a legitimate victim who identified a man he said had a gun and had just robbed him. This is also the ONLY information you had to work with at the time.

    You were chasing an armed robbery suspect. In the shadowy low light of dusk. Alone.

    You had the suspect in sight until the suspect disappeared behind a house. Officer safety dictates you slowed to avoid an ambush. You updated radio with your current location for responding back up officers.

    Using proper officer safety techniques, you rounded the corner and observed a man matching the suspect’s description. He appeared to be hiding in the bushes. You do not know the man lived here, and even if he did, the man could still be the armed robbery suspect.

    You radioed you had the suspect at gunpoint in the backyard and gave the address. You, without malice, using proper police procedures, and acting in good faith, fully believing this is the robbery suspect you’d been chasing. The suspect refused to show you his hands when instructed. The victim had told you the suspect was armed with a gun. As a trained police officer you knew just how fast an armed suspect could point and shoot if he wanted to. Rather than immediately open fire (the safest course for you) you ordered the man—repeatedly—to show you his hands.

    The man would not comply. Instead, he asked you why you’re in “his” yard. You may have wondered if it was the man’s yard, but you could not automatically believe this. You had to proceed as if the man was the suspect. To do otherwise would have been foolish.

    We can’t forget the man is refusing to comply. If the man had simply put the trowel down and shown you his hands, the officer would have had the man lay on the ground and most likely waited for back up officers to assist taking him into custody. After which, his true identity would have been determined.

    But, what should have happened didn’t happen. Sadly, the man contributed to his own tragedy. He refused to obey a police officer’s lawful commands—for whatever reason, and a man who shouldn’t have died, died. But it wasn’t your fault. You did exactly as the police department trained you to do. Shouldn’t that be enough? Yes, but it’s not.

    Now, am I wrong to wonder, with a change in the law, what would happen to you? Without the malice/good faith language, could you be convicted of criminal homicide because somehow, anti-police, Monday-morning quarterbacks decided you “should have known” the man was the resident, not the suspect, and had a garden tool and not a gun. How could you have known? The best you could have done would be to guess. And what if you were wrong? The man did everything but wear a sign saying you should believe he was your suspect. Still, with new legislation, you could be in serious trouble—for doing your job.

    Remember the Cambridge police officers who detained Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. after someone reported Gates as a possible burglar at his home? Even President Obama concluded the officers acted “stupidly.” But how in the world were the officers supposed to know Professor Gates was who he said he was simply by his word? Isn’t that what a criminal would say? They’ve said it to me in similar circumstances. Again, they don’t issue cops crystal balls in the academy. So, if a simple detention is deemed “stupid,” what would they say about an incident where police shot a man?

    Governments at all levels are horrible at teaching the public what police do and why they do it. When a high-profile incident occurs, too many leaders would rather “teach” the public what the cop did “wrong,” even if it was “right” when he or she learned it in training. And if the officer is truly wrong and legally judged to be so, then let the punishment fit the crime. But when officers act as they were properly taught, how about government and law enforcement leaders start teaching the public that, though things turned out wrong, what the officer did was right.

     

     

  • 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?

  • Seattle’s Homeless Camp Removal Protocol: If They Refuse to Obey, Let ‘em Stay

    How’s this for a government vagrant removal “protocol?” As I understand it, as explained on a morning radio talk show, the city of Seattle has set into place a system to remove “homeless” encampments from city streets. One of the city’s many homeless hovels is currently blighting 2nd Avenue, Downtown.

    Seattle’s protocol for sidewalk encampment removal requires all agencies involved in the cleanup, police, DSHS, solid waste, etc., be present at the location to complete a removal. All of them for the entire time.

    Since the police had to leave—you know—to do real police work, and some of the lovely “beneficiaries of liberal largess” refused mother city’s request to stop defiling Downtown sidewalks, the “eviction” ended.

    This protocol is insane and is designed to appear as if liberal city leaders are doing something about the vagrancy problem when they are doing the opposite: making it worse.  

     

    Liberal government has been the rule in Seattle forever

    Except for a few respites with a conservative city attorney, liberal government presided over Seattle during my police career. Over more than two decades, the city hasn’t solved the “homeless” problem; they’ve made it worse—much worse.

    This is not a new problem. Several years ago, shortly before I retired, I remember walking on the sidewalk northbound on Broadway between Madison and Union Streets. I was in uniform, on duty. Someone had set up a tent on the sidewalk next to a city telephone pole.

    Even many Seattleites driving by looked at me incredulously, as I did nothing. What could I do? My city had de-policed me. If I had rousted the occupant, the city might accuse me of a civil rights violation. Why would any cop risk that?

    Ironically, it’s illegal to camp in a city park. At least, it used to be.    

    The above lunacy recently led to the death of a 19-year-old street-camper run over by a car at an I-5 off-ramp in the U. District.

     

    Liberal policies have never been and never will be successful—by design

    The liberal’s attempts to solve Seattle’s vagrancy problem has been a disaster and will continue to be. The people living in tents along freeways and on city sidewalks are not the homeless families and mentally ill folks Seattle’s bleating hearts would like you to believe. Not most of them, anyway. Most I’ve dealt with were chronically inebriated criminals who eschewed civil society and reveled in their make-believe, makeshift communities. 

     

    Seattle: no respect for “homeless” as people responsible for their lives

    The situation will not be resolved until Seattle’s liberal, political power seekers begin to respect these people as human beings, not children, by holding them responsible for the state of their lives and for their actions.

    There is nothing wrong with also offering these folks any services available. However, if they are not held accountable for the condition of their lives or their irresponsible actions, why not choose the handouts and false sympathy that keep these folks perpetually contemptuous of civil society and dependent on liberal government?

    It’s an insult to those who have courageously dragged themselves out of the mire of drug and alcohol addiction, crime, and the resulting poverty, to give the sidewalk campers a pass.

  • Myth Affects Cops

    I went to a retirement party the other night for one of the best cops I’ve ever known. The term legendary came up many times during the evening. Most of the stories we told about him were great fun to tell, but it was something he said during his speech that struck me.

    After acknowledging “going out while still vertical,” he said, “I make no apologies for being a cop. I am not ashamed of being a police officer. I am proud of my career.”

    What a sorry state for American law enforcement that a cop like him felt it necessary to say this. The room was full of cops, friends, and family. Yet, the mood of the nation (as expressed by anti-police factions) descended on the celebration.

    As an officer and a sergeant, this man served his community for over three decades. Nearly all of it was in patrol where most police work is done. Sadly, there are people who couldn’t care less about this man’s service and dedication.

    Those people work hard to perpetuate the myth that the cops are “broken,” so they can destroy what cops work hard to build–safe communities.

    The cop haters should be the ones making apologies and feeling ashamed, not the cops.

  • Gun Buyer Background Checks and Gun Registration Are Not the Same–Not At All!

    Police and libertarian issues

    With the increase in news reports, I’ve been writing a lot about gun issues, lately. When I write about firearms/gun rights it’s under two headings: one, as a police issue. The cops will not be there to protect you. If you are ever in a position to need a gun, you will have seconds to act while the cops won’t be there for minutes. This is also a libertarian issue. Put succinctly, the Second Amendment.

    Does Bill O’Reilly support gun registration?

    Last night on FOX News’, The O’Reilly Factor, I heard Bill say people should use “common sense” when it comes to “gun registration” while he was delivering “Talking Points” about background checks. He mentioned people drive and have to register their cars, as if cars and guns are similar. Americans aren’t under the threat of liberals wishing to confiscate their cars (well, maybe SUVs).

    Registration and background check are not the same thing

    I hope Bill isn’t conflating firearms purchaser background checks with gun registration—they are very different issues. I hope he understands that, if gun dealer checks my background, I check out okay, and then I purchase my firearm, that should be the end of the transaction. That weapon then belongs to me to do with, legally, what I will. If that means giving the gun as a gift to a family member or friend, that is my business as a law-abiding American.

    Gun registration provides government the tools for confiscation

    However, if I am made to register my gun, to let the government know what guns I have, how many I have, and where I live, in the unlikely (but, still far too likely for comfort, these days) event that our government descends into further liberal lunacy, this would allow the government to have everything it needs to try to take my guns or to prosecute me if I no longer have them.

    A guard against government tyranny

    Our Founding Fathers included the Second Amendment to guard against government tyranny. If this is the case, and we know it is, who could think that registering guns with the very government guns are kept to defend against makes any sense?

     

     

  • A Chief of Police or a Chief of Mayor?

    Does a chasm exists between cops and their chiefs?

    Could a problem in policing today be the gaping chasm that seems to exist between many American police chiefs and their rank and file cops. The position is known as Chief of Police. However, it seems a mayor appointing a person to the office, instead, expects him or her to be the Chief of Mayor. Sheriffs, who are directly elected, may have similar problems depending on the politics of the electorate, but at least they run their own departments.

     

    Alchemy in achievement.

    Police chiefs rise through the ranks either within their departments or are appointed by mayors of other departments to serve as their top cop. These chiefs are usually good people, but many are also, evidently, politically malleable (i.e., the ladder seems to lean to the left as they climb it). Could the philosophical and political separation between cops and their chief come from the alchemy that occurs within some people who rise through the ranks? Sadly, many succumb to the adage: go along to get along. There may be a necessary professional distance that exists between employees and their bosses, generally. However, law enforcement, being a risk-laden, paramilitary organization, poses additional considerations, and trust and loyalty in both directions is crucial.

     

    Conservative cops vs. Liberal leaders.

    It’s no secret that the vast majority of street cops tend to be politically conservative. It is also no mystery that the people running cities such as Seattle are liberal, have oodles of leftist-sanctioned diversity, but scant political diversity. So, what happens when it’s time for the liberal city leadership to choose a chief of police to “lead” its police officers?

     

    The selection process.

    We cops used to parody Seattle’s police chief selection process. We could imagine the mayor meeting the police chief candidates at SeaTac Airport and requesting the candidate hand over his or her ______ (balls for men and, for women, the female equivalent) before then being pre-qualified to be invited to city hall for the formal interview. The city employs a ruse that the rank and file has a “vote” because the Police Officers Guild interviews the candidates and makes recommendations. However, in reality, the guild leadership essentially has to choose among candidates who range from politically left to, far left to, have left the building.

     

    Chief of the cops?

    There hasn’t been Chief of “Police” in Seattle for a long time—probably since Patrick Fitzsimons (the chief who hired me). Coming from the NYPD, many officers may have had legitimate issues with Chief Fitzsimons, but there was no doubt he was the Chief. I often saw Fitzsimons visit the precinct–and pound his knuckles on officer’s chests to make sure they were wearing their ballistic vests. To the contrary, even if I were missing three fingers, I could count on one hand how many times I saw Chiefs Stamper, Kerlikowske or Diaz in a precinct roll call during either of their tenures. How should patrol officers feel knowing they will never work for a chief they can trust—someone they could follow with confidence. The truth is, the mayor and city council will never appoint a chief who the rank and file approves of, because city leaders have never seemed very interested in the cops’ perspective (just shut up and be good little socialists, as a certain officer once put it).

     

    Chief of Police or Chief of Mayor?

    Does this mean the rank and file won’t give a new police chief the benefit of the doubt? Of course not. We gave it to Chief Norm Stamper, R. Gil Kerlikowske, John Diaz (in whom we had the most hope, because he came from us) and most recently, to Kathleen O’Toole. Still, while all of these chiefs, from a patrol officer’s perspective, made good and bad moves, officers were mostly disappointed after these chiefs seem to have been (or are a) puppet(s) of the municipal handlers, more concerned with following political protocols than with truly leading police officers. While a chief, ostensibly, has authority over his or her officers, should we have to wonder who actually runs the police department in Seattle? Shouldn’t it be an apolitical (as much as possible) chief of police? If Seattle weren’t lead by its liberal elite, its police department might not have become the petri dish for liberal, social justice experimentation that it is today. And it would have a Chief of Police, not a Chief of Mayor.

  • Border Patrol Pauses to Reflect on Police Body Cameras

    Is it time to pause and reflect about police video?

    It appears the U.S. Border Patrol has provided American law enforcement legitimate cause to pause and reflect on the use of police video, particularly, body cameras. I mentioned in a previous blog that a barista berated a friend of mine, still an active duty cop, for daring to answer another barista’s question about police body cameras by telling her the truth regarding arguments for and against police body cameras. During the rude barista’s tirade, she said, “I’d rather be filmed naked than let you cops get away with what you do.” I don’t think we have to decipher her open-mindedness on the issue. What happens when officers enter an innocent residence in error or while chasing a suspect on foot? (Yes, this happens) What happens when those people are caught on camera in legal, but compromising, situations? That footage is still open to public disclosure. Would you also rather be filmed naked, and then viewed by strangers–perhaps, a lot of them?

    U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

    Despite the barista’s neurotic fears, and acknowledging the pros, there are also legitimate cons regarding law enforcement officers wearing body cameras. Recently, on www.PoliceOne.com, an Associated Press article written by Elliot Spagat reported that the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection is recommending against the use of body cameras (US border agency staff rejects body cameras). The reasons cited were refreshingly “old school,” as the reasons reflect the concerns of cops as human beings. And, I’m saying this despite numerous officers being exonerated of wrongdoing due to vehicle and body camera footage. Still, the objections are valid and should be considered.

    A distraction and morale suffers.

    According to the article, “The yearlong review cited cost and a host of other reasons to hold off, according to two people familiar with the findings who spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings have not been made public. It found operating cameras may distract agents while they’re performing their jobs, may hurt employee morale….” They also cited difficulties with the hot, dry weather conditions for agents stationed on the southwest border experience.

    Training

    The training many officers initially received on dash cam videos demonstrated that many officers concerns are valid. I remember attending in-car video training several years ago. One of the issues of concern instructors attempted to dispel immediately was that administrators and supervisors would proactively cull videos for use in disciplining or even retaliating against officers. Our instructor assured us videos would never be used in “fishing” expeditions against officers. Every officer in the class snickered with skepticism. Talk to any officer today, and you’ll find evidence that vindicates the skeptics.

    Video “fishing expeditions”

    Prior to the Department of Justice (DOJ) arriving in Seattle and presenting their bogus investigation findings, Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) investigations were relatively infrequent with some officers having gone without receiving a white envelope with a red stamp in their department mailboxes for years. I went nineteen years, all on the streets in patrol, without being a “suspect” officer in an investigation before the DOJ consent decree debacle. Following DOJ’s arrival I was investigated several times, mostly from internal, department initiated charges. Today, it is rare to find any officer who hasn’t been under investigation for some alleged violation. And video is often the weapon used to find these allegations.

    Now, even examples of police excellence are often questioned

    An example: Before I retired I was involved in what would normally be viewed as an exceptional example of great police work. Several units responded to a report of a knife-wielding suspect threatening a gas station owner. On arrival we determined that not only had the suspect threatened the store owner  with a knife, he’d also punched her. We arrested him, recovered a knife as well as items that indicated the suspect may have been posing as a police officer (though not during this incident).

    After receiving information from the primary investigating officer, we arrested the suspect. After the arrest, while waiting for the primary officer to gain additional information from the victims, one of the officers determined the suspect’s vehicle would be impounded, as it was blocking access to the gas pump island. Prior to a tow truck arriving to hook the car, officers routinely inspect the car’s interior and trunk to be sure there is nothing hazardous in the vehicle. In fact, policies and procedures at the time dictated officers do this. One officer did this.

    From my location, I could see a cardboard box, a piece of rope and maybe some other innocuous items within the trunk—essentially nothing of note. So innocuous, later, I barely recalled that portion of the incident. Subsequent to the inspection, the suspect’s sister arrived at the scene. The suspect requested his sister take possession of the car rather than it being impounded. The officer who’d inspected the trunk cancelled the tow truck and allowed the sister to take the car.

    Recap: We’d arrived in time to stop any further assault against the victim and arrested the armed suspect, confiscating a knife from him. Great police work, right? Commendations all around, right? Not post-DOJ. Resulting from this investigation, every officer present was investigated for alleged wrongdoing.

    The suspect–yeah, the guy who’d assaulted a poor business owner, punched her and threatened her with a knife–filed a complaint contending the officers had conducted an unlawful search of his car’s trunk. Due to the fact that the suspect’s sister was allowed to take the car—by officers at the scene, it was no longer an “impound” therefore investigators determined that the inspection of the trunk was illegal. OPA investigated we three officers for an “illegal” search. Despite only one officer having physically inspected the trunk, they also investigated the other two officers: the primary officer, who was inside the store interviewing the victim and witnesses, and me, standing by with the prisoner in the parking lot. Apparently, they investigated us simply for being on the property at the time the vehicle inspection occurred.

    The officer who inspected the trunk was sanctioned for conducting an “illegal” search, and the primary officer and I were eventually “cleared” but were referred to our supervisors for further “training.” Training in what? How to stand inside a store or in a parking lot while another officer peeks into the trunk of a car?

    Cameras

    This is where the camera issue comes back into play. In training, we were all taught some basic protocols. One was that sometimes the vehicle camera direction simply wouldn’t be pointed at where the “action” is occurring. After all, Steven Spielberg isn’t on scene directing this stuff. On arrival at an incident where a suspect has assaulted a victim and is armed with a knife, officers are not concerned with where their cameras are aimed, only their guns. Another protocol taught was if there is no audio to go with the video, there is no video. On arrival, my car happened to be pointed toward the west exterior wall of the store. The incident was taking place in the parking lot on the north side and the suspect’s car was at the west fueling island. When I arrived, I parked, jumped out of my car and ran to assist the other officer in taking the armed suspect into custody.

    Due to the parking lot configuration, the other officers’ vehicles were also facing directions not where the arrest was taking place (suspects and victims rarely stand still). In this instance, because the audio was not married to the video, officers were taught video was not required.

    Still, each one of us was investigated for not activating our video cameras during the incident. Having done great police work, protected a victim and arrested an armed suspect, my two fellow officers were officially sanctioned for not having their cameras activated during the incident. I only ducked the same fate because, during my transport of the prisoner to the precinct, I had activated my camera, videotaping the suspect in my backseat. Therefore, I actually had video of at least a portion of the incident recorded–a technicality. How I actually remembered to turn the camera on at all is a mystery to me. We were all still getting used to something very new to us.

    Let reason, not emotion,inform policy

    The Border Patrol’s findings give us a valid reason to pause and take a hard look at both the benefits and liabilities of these developing technologies and how best to deploy them without neglecting the humanity of those required to wear them. I wonder: would the politicians so interested in cops wearing body cameras be interested in wearing them too. After all, they are public servants.

     

  • Workers Need the Rich to Buy Limos, Yachts and Mansions

    Anti-capitalism seems all the rage. Malcontents in many cities throughout the world recently held demonstrations, including here in Seattle. Amusingly, in the Jet City, the police tasked with escorting the protesters outnumbered them, as they attempted to express their First Amendment “rights” by blocking Seattleites pursuits of happiness. For the left it was business as usual; it seems nothing is more important than what they believe.

    It’s nearly impossible to imagine what, besides time and experience, could get through those granite noggins. The fact—yes, fact—that free market capitalism has made the world a much better place than the one it found on its arrival in the arsenal of American Exceptionalism, is undeniable. However, it’s also no mystery that these perennial protesters deny the undeniable. Logic seems to play a small role, if any, in their thinking and actions.

    The anarchists, the socialists, the communists and the ignorant whine about the so-called “One Percent.” They ask derisively, how many jets, houses or yachts a rich person should have? I have two answers to that. One: as many as they want and can afford—it’s their money! Two: Hopefully, as many as possible. The second answer comes from all the aviation, marine and housing laborers who are responsible for putting food on their tables and keeping roofs over their heads.

    The white-collar one-percent don’t physically build the cars; their blue-collar employees do. For every limousine, private jet or mansion built, companies need skilled and unskilled laborers to build them. Try making a list tracking all the hands involved in the manufacture of these products. General contractors, subcontractors, and designers; mechanics, carpenters, and bricklayers; stone masons, electricians, and plumbers; painters, landscapers, and gardeners; pilots, drivers, captains and crews; architects, accountants, and insurance agents and on and on. And this is just off the top of my head and not nearly a complete list. It doesn’t include the myriad ancillary businesses supported by the dollars these companies spend on materials, hardware, and parts, not to mention what their laborers pour into the economy.

    No issue is as black and white as the social justice agitators would like to have us believe. Then again, critical thinking has never been one of the left’s strong suits.

     

  • Reasons for Poor Police-Community Relations

    As I see it, there are three primary reasons for the current anti-police sentiment felt across America. (Officers who actually commit crimes also contribute to this, but I feel that is another discussion–not to mention, obvious). Lately, this acrimony has been expressed by some restaurant employees refusing to serve police officers or writing disparaging messages on their coffee cups such as, “FTP” (F**k the Police).

    The first reason is simple: a combination of ignorance and antipathy. There are people who simply do not want to know the truth about police cases where officers are cleared of wrongdoing. They prefer to remain ignorant and angry. They do not like the police, they do not want to like the police, and they do not want anyone else to like the police.

    They buy into myths such as, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” which, according to former Attorney General Eric Holder, who had contributed to trying to paint the officer guilty, never happened. While some police critics may come around as they mature and gain life experience, as a group these people are simply cop-haters—enemies of the police.

    The second reason is when governments pass unnecessary and redundant laws, which are often politically motivated. Most of these types of laws do not address legitimate public safety issues. Whenever government passes a law that doesn’t protect Peter from Paul but protects Peter from his own decisions, a collision course between cops and ordinary citizens has been assured.

    The third reason is caused by police officers themselves. Many, perhaps even most, people can recall a negative contact with a police officer at some time in their lives. Just like most folks can cite a negative experience with an employee at the post office, a restaurant or movie theater. However, negative experiences with police officers tend to remain long after the contact than with other “service providers.” The petty tyrants among police officers can cause a lot of problems for people but also for their fellow cops.

    When dealing with people, I always tried to keep in mind that our interaction set them up for their next meeting with a police officer. If I were rude or unprofessional, people might expect that behavior from the next officer as well.

    I’m not saying that professionally acting officers ignore when people disrespect them. People should be treated in a manner befitting what their behavior has earned them. This third reason results from when officers are rude or unprofessional with people who are being cooperative. Think about it. Do you have a negative story about interacting with the police? I do—a couple of them.

    Of course, having been a cop for so long, I have many more positive contacts that mitigate the few petty tyrants. Unfortunately, the average citizen does not have this advantage. They might have one, two or a handful, at most, contacts with the police, and probably for something relatively minor. This can affect how they think about cops, generally.

    In these instances, the contact can have a significant impact on people’s views on law enforcement. Cops should not join the cop-haters and politicians by helping to create this negative environment. The first two groups do it out of ignorance, hate or for political gain. Let’s not add insult to injury by aiding our own destruction.