Archive for the ‘Law Enforcement’ Category

There was an incident in New york City this week involving a shooter and his subsequent death at the hands of veteran police officers.  My intent is to not analyze or criticize the actions of the police officers, on the contrary, I want to use it to prove a point that I brought out last month in Think Before You Speak.  During the Aurora, Colorado shooting last month there was a backlash of loudmouths who expressed their opinion that had people been carrying guns in the theatre the shooter would not have had the effect that he did.  In fact most of the loudest expressed that he would not have shot anyone had they been there and allowed to carry their firearms.  Again, I say bullshit.

Before I go any further take a read at some of the latest information coming out. http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/25/justice/new-york-empire-state-shooting/index.html

Now keep in mind, this is two trained, veteran officers of one of the most proficient police forces in the world.  A force that has exceptional standards and has trained its officers to react appropriately in situations just like this. So a few facts in this case:

16 rounds fired by the police officers (9 from one, 7 from the other)
3 rounds reported hitting the suspect

9 bystanders hit by shrapnel or directly by bullets

So, these veteran, well-trained police officers were not able to put all their rounds in the target.  The target was standing, in the open, full daylight.  Now turn this around to that night in Colorado, it was movie theatre black, smoke grenades had been thrown in and the shooter was in the front unleashing his evil.  Now all the loudmouths out there say they could have taken him out, I repeat, bullshit.

I know each and every situation is unique, no matter what your level of weapons training.  Bad things can happen in a firefight, they usually do.  There is a reason why elite military units and law enforcement special weapons teams use extreme violence and train as thoroughly and as disciplined as they do.  It gives them the advantage and allows them to command the situation, it provides dominance over the untrained.  The casual shooter or gun enthusiast does not have the level of training and dispassion required to act in those situations.  They may be able to overcome a burglar or someone wishing to do them home when confronted face to face, but a situation like Colorado is a different beast.

Those cops in NYC kept many more people from being killed thanks to their actions.  I realize there were casualties associated with those actions, but they were not done because they were careless.  They happened in a blink of the eye and as a result of the heat of battle.  Those officers are going to deal with their psychological situation for some time to come.  There will probably be some additional civil fallout, that I would hope the City would shield them from.

There is a fine line between training and acting.  There are times that no matter what the amount of training that something bad can happen.  Putting a bullet in someone, when you can look at them is not something we, as humans, are inclined to do.  Training, repetitive and constant helps to overcome that, but the average civilian or crazy ass, loudmouth militiaman does not have it.  Sociopaths and psychos are a different story, they do not have the limits that most of society does.  So, next time something horrible happens, it will just a matter of where and when, do not open your mouth and spout your ill-advised Second Amendment crap, think more about what you can do to limit something happening to you or your family.  Develop a sense of what is around you and seek some guidance on what should be done when a tragedy happens in a public forum.  I bring things up to my family all the time when we are out and about.  I do not address it as a paranoid person, but I disguise it as someone who likes to know what the options are given the environment I am in.  The best thing sometimes is to simply take yourself out of the way and be as observant as possible.  As a last resort or if the opportunity is survivable, act, but think about what the consequences are to those around should you fail.

I am an advocate for the Second Amendment.  I am also an advocate for gun control.  I do not believe they are exclusive of each other.  Targets are paper, people are not.  Targets do not shoot back, people do.

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I am going to take a rash of crap for this one, but I am going to fire away at it anyhow.  There has been a ton of postings on various blogs, television and Facebook Meme’s that extol the virtues of gun ownership, particularly the concealed carry ability and how if there had been people in the audience at the premiere of Dark Knight this Friday morning in Aurora, Colorado, that the shooter would never have been able to do what he did.  I am actually of the opposite mindset and I firmly believe that had there been people who were willing to draw down on the shooter, we would have had more folks hurt or killed and the ballistics would have matched up to the “do-gooders” weapons and not the original shooters.

You may ask if I am for the Second Amendment and if I have something against gun ownership.  I will answer yes, and no.  The no however comes with a couple of caveats which I will not get very in depth with here.  That is a topic for another blog at a more appropriate time.  My concern for this blog is the mindless people who think simply having a gun on your person is both a deterrent and gives you the ability to stop a madman when he begins his rampage.  Please keep in mind this happened in Aurora, CO, not Fayetteville/FT Bragg, NC or FT Lewis, WA, or Camp Pendelton, CA or Camp Lejeune, NC; places where the majority of the citizens have had real training and have faced the rigors of combat.  In all these other locations you can find in any venue, multiple people who have moved through the fog of war to close with and engage the enemy.  These people know what to look at and for when the “shit hits the fan”, they know how to engage.  Soldiers (used universally here) can move through the smoke and as much as we may hate it, we have exposure to gas environments through training.  Chances are in one of these locations, it would have been multiple people taking down the shooter without killing him (outright anyway) because they are smart enough and well trained enough to know that you, DO NOT SHOOT AT WHAT YOU CANNOT SEE!!!  It is beaten into the lowest ranking individual.

So all you ass-hats that think you would have just whipped out your pistol when the smoke started rolling and the shooter started wreaking havoc, you are both full of crap and inexperienced.  Chances are had you brought a weapon to bear you would never even know until long after the fact that you were responsible for the wounding or death of someone else.  I say this not to make light of what happened or to deny anyone their Constitutional right to bear arms, I say this as a professional who knows that it all sounds great when you are planning it, but it never happens the way you plan it.  All of your concealed carry folks out there (my people that I know are trained well, you know this does not refer to you) you need to do a little more than plink at paper targets to get to the point where you can knowingly draw your weapon and take someone down.  It definitely takes more than plinking at paper targets to do so under extreme stress, especially that in which you cannot see and someone is actually shooting at you.

My thoughts and sympathies lie with the victims and their families of this tragedy.  Whatever the shooters reasons may be, it is too bad he did not challenge the police when they arrested him, it would be much better had he done so, it would have been a swift justice.  Fortunately, most police officers in this country maintain their proficiency with their weapons to defend themselves and others around them, they do not train to the point in which callous disregard for the laws they enforce will allow them to simply kill the perpetrator, no matter how justified the public in general may feel about it.  Had they simply just blown him away, there may have been additional casualties from law enforcement because they would not have been told of the bombs he had set up at his apartment.  So despite my personal thoughts stated earlier that killing the shooter would have been a swift justice, good job to the police officers for showing the restraint needed in such a situation.

Simply owning the gun and saying you have the will to use it is not enough.  When things are going to hell it takes more than basic proficiencies in order to function in the void.

I may get a few negative comments in regards to this one.  They will come in two flavors: those who actually know what I am talking about, they have taken a life or have the skills to do so; and, those who think because they have the right to bear arms, that they actually have the emotional capacity to deal with the life they take.  The last being the loudest proponents of standing their ground and living within the bounds or “law” and their “god given rights”.  They more often than not speak the loudest, they are also generally speaking part of the statistic of those who are killed or injured by their own firearm.

This post is in part inspired by the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case in Florida.  I do not intend to discuss it in any depth, nor will I debate the merits of the actual case.  In my opinion it has already reached the point of no return for a fair jury thanks to the press and ineptitude of lawmakers.  The issue I have with the case revolves more around the vagueness of the Stand Your Ground law that Florida and numerous other states have enacted.  There are very key points that are missing, one of them being the allowance for the situation being developed by the person who has stood their ground and their complicity in making said situation happen.  I am going to make a few assumptions in regard to this statement and I will use the Zimmerman case as an example.  I do however make the disclaimer that I do not know what happened, I have no great insight, I just intend to use it as an example of how an application of common-sense could have avoided the whole thing.

I am all for defending the bubble around you and your loved ones, even extending that to someone you witness bearing the brunt of a violent act.  That bubble can be your “castle” and the grounds it stands on, or, it could very well be that invisible area around you as you visit a place of business or simply walk down the street.  You have the right to defend yourself to the extreme you deem necessary, most importantly, when it is an unprovoked attack.  You even have the right to defend yourself in circumstances in which you may have either, wittingly or unwittingly, been an instigator in the situation.  The difference being in this case, you should still be responsible for dealing with the consequences of the end-result.

This is where I transition to George Zimmerman as an example.  Again, I am not read in to the circumstances, but he is prevalent in the news these days and for my purposes he is a perfect example for what I mean.  The few things we do know is that Zimmerman had some level of complicity in how the situation developed.  We know what the outcome was, a young man lost his life.  We know the argument is Zimmerman was “defending” himself from an unprovoked attack, essentially “standing his ground”.  This is where I personally break from the Florida party line in this case.  If indeed he was physically confronted by Martin as is claimed, he was not standing his ground as it was meant to be, he was applying deadly force in a situation in which he was at a minimum partly complicit in developing to the point in which deadly force was used.  No different in my mind than if he had picked a fight in a bar and the outcome was the death of the person he was fighting.

The problem I see with standing your ground, is it sounds really good on paper, and it is a fundamental right to defend yourself.  Having said that, their is a difference in not allowing someone to hurt or kill you when it is entirely unprovoked and when you are responding to violence in a situation that you at least partially provoked.  Standing your ground only has fim ground to stand on when you started the situation completely innocent in the matter.  What most people do not realize, particularly the second group mentioned in the first paragraph is there are other consequences beside legal they have to deal with when you take a life, regardless of whether or not it is intentional or in self defense.

Taking a life face to face, with a weapon of simply from a physical confrontation is an emotional trauma.  In the case of soldiers and law enforcement, it is often the result of training, yet each time it happens for them, there is a change that takes place in the person, regardless of the circumstances.  People that do not have that training face the additional issues of moving past their personal barriers in place in order to proceed to the point of violence to defend violence.  It sounds really good when it rolls off their tongues that they will do what they need to in order to protect what is theirs, it is a wholly different matter actually getting there.  Even someone who has killed before has self-placed barriers they must move beyond in order to reach that point.

The problem I see overall, is standing your ground has consequences.  Even if you are truly innocent in events leading up to the situation, there are consequences you will have to deal with.  Most of them being from an emotional perspective.  Many, if not most people, are not equipped to deal with what they will have to deal with when they have taken a life.  For those who have an additional layer of complicity in the matter, they have a greater emotional road to travel.  Standing your ground is the right of every American, but self-defense is a very well known and well-defined term, there should not be a legal out due to the vagaries of statute law in regards to the complicity of both parties in the outcome.

9/11 Flag of Honor hung in the hallway at my daughters school. The names of all those who died are contained within the flag.

As we move on towards Memorial Day this coming Monday, it will be easy to forget the reason we (most of us anyhow) have the day off.  As we get ready to attend or host a BBQ the memorial part of Memorial Day can sometimes slip by the wayside.  It is very understandable, things, especially ideals, get lost in the shuffle.  It is not a crime, it is just something that happens.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer with the opening of public pools, the first nicest weather (fingers crossed) to start hosting BBQs and parties, the beaches begin to become a little bit more attractive, hemlines get just a tinsey bit higher and Southern women can again begin to wear white shoes.  All of these things would still be possible even without Memorial Day, it is not like the weather or seasons are going to change just because there is a National holiday.

The Federal government has seen fit however to give us a moment, a day really, on which to reflect before we begin the 100 or so days of summer and all that entails.  That moment of reflection is significant as it is predicated on people taking the time to appreciate the sacrifices made in order for us to remain a free country and give our citizens the ability to enjoy the coming days as they see fit.

For many folks it can be amongst the most painful of times, they are the family survivors of someone who has paid the ultimate price.  They will have constant reminders as they see numerous parades in honor of veterans throughout the country, Old Glory lowered to half-staff, motorcycle poker runs with flags flapping in the breeze behind them, and the loud music and boisterous partying of their friends and neighbors who have probably not felt the loss as they have.

Major League Baseball, each and every Memorial Day stops play at 3:00 PM and holds a moment of remembrance.  The Homeplate Umpire steps forward and removes his mask signifying the moment, regardless of inning.  Baseball has always been one of the most patriotic of sports, the players across the league each year sending messages to the troops deployed downrange and hosting veterans and their families in very special ways.  Satellite radios Octane channel will stop music and play TAPS at noon on Monday.  Various other museums and memorial locations will also host their unique tributes to veterans and their families during the day.

At some point this weekend as the frivolity goes on, take a moment at any time, stop what is going on and call for just a moment of silence in the festivities.  At the end if the environment is conducive, raise a glass and have a shot.  Play the video for TAPS that I am including here:

Whatever your flavor may be it is still possible today thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of veterans and their families.  Here is one I have heard too many times through the years at memorials and funerals for the following.  I happen to like this one as it includes police officers as well as the military.

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Mark

This week from May 13th to the 19th is National Police Week.  Yesterday, the 15th was Peace Officers Memorial Day, a time to pay tribute to all the fallen police officers from the last year and years past.  Yesterday at the U.S. Capitol, President Obama delivered remarks for representatives of Law Enforcement Organizations from throughout the country and around the world, as well as family survivors of officers killed in the line of duty.  Flags throughout the country were flown at half-mast in honor of the fallen.

From Whitehouse.gov the President addressed the crowd with the following:

Every American who wears the badge knows the burdens that come with it — the long hours and the stress; the knowledge that just about any moment could be a matter of life or death.  You carry these burdens so the rest of us don’t have to.

And this shared sense of purpose brings you together, and it brings you to our nation’s capital today.  You come from different states and different backgrounds and different walks of life, but I know that you come here as a community:  one family, united by a quiet strength and a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of others.

The rest of us can never fully understand what you go through.  But please know that we hold you in our hearts — not just today, but always.  We are forever in your debt.  And it is on behalf of all of us, the entire American people, that I offer my thoughts, my prayers, and my thanks

According to Policeweek.org, President Kennedy, in 1962, “signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.”.  First attended in 1982, the memorial initially drew 120 survivors and law enforcement supporters.  It has grown to thousands from around the world with many events and gatherings throughout the week.

Our country lost over 160 law enforcement officers last year.  These dedicated people serve each and every day in a variety of conditions and environments.  The thing they all have in common is that they never know what each situation they find themselves in will bring them, and sometimes the most benign of situations can have the most hazardous of impacts.  Police officers walk the fine line between their own safety and that of the public with which they have sworn their protection, all too often the tragic consequences of that dedication leaves family members to sit in grief and wondering why.

As you read the morning paper each day this week and watch the ever present news cycle during the day, pay close attention to the number of times you see law enforcement serving and protecting the public.  Put aside the sensationalized and more rare than common negative incidents you may hear about police or their departments and think about how you or your family may have been affected, all those times you may never have known, that a police officer may have just saved your life or that of a family member because they were doing the job that only a few will do.