Friday, April 3, 2009

Cops have rights, too!

I'll confess, I tho't of several other equally appropriate titles for this ("Dumb Criminals Make Cops' Job Easier" or "Dumb Citizens Make Cops' Job Harder"... can you tell who's side I'm on, here?) but we'll stick with the simple. Yes, Cops have rights, too. They uphold the law for us and they have the right to:

1) our gratitude: they keep the criminals, dumb or not, off the streets
2) our thanks: see reason one, plus all the other things they do that DON'T have to do with upholding the law. Say, for instance, the charities they work with and for to help children or battered women.
3) our help: how can we help them? BY STAYING OUT OF THE WAY!! And by not castigating them when they DO their job!
...most important, they have the right to:
4) go home, in one piece, to their familes every time their shift ends.

I get SO TIRED of these imbeciles who criticize cops for doing their jobs. Do cops make mistakes? Sure. So do you and I. Are there bad cops out there? Of course, but there are bad apples in EVERY barrel! You can't point a finger at someone without three pointing back at yourself. Remember that! A few years ago, I saw an idiot holding up a sign stating that the cops had murdered her brother. What the sign DIDN'T say was what the brother may have done to get himself shot by an officer doing his job. With rare exception, cops would rather NOT have to pull their guns, let alone pull the trigger. It's a huge responsibility to carry a weapon, knowing that you may have to injure someone, or even end their life to preserve your own or someone elses. Gun owners will jokingly state that "Gun Control Is Hitting Where You're Aiming"; but, it's more than that. Gun control is knowing you CAN use the gun, but choosing NOT to unless you're forced.

Okay, a few examples. Last month in my city, there was an officer involved shooting. Allow me to set the scene:
It's mid-afternoon on a Sunday, a church service has just let out and adults and children are milling about in the parking lot fellowshipping after the service. They notice a young man, a teen, in the parking lot of a drive-thru across the street and someone notices the kid has a knife.

Okay, time out, I don't know about you, but I see someone - even across the street - carrying a knife in plain view, I'm going to chase all the kids BACK INSIDE THE CHURCH and lock the doors before I call the cops. Just common sense, folks (which, apparently, isn't so common any more!) Our church had a similar incident about six months ago. The police were searching for a man in our church's neighborhood whom they'd exchanged gun fire with. What did our pastor do? He made sure the kids were locked in the basement for Sunday school, the doors to the upstairs access were locked and that several of our bigger, stronger men were on guard duty in the lobby. In short, he did everything he could to ensure our safety until we were given the all clear by the police. COMMON SENSE!

Okay, time in:
People at this church call the police about this young man and one group flags down a female officer, pointing the youth out. Now, the group that flags her down happens to be in the same parking lot as the knife-carrying youth. She's out of her car by now, sees who the citizen is pointing to and tell the kid to stop and drop his knife. Apparently this kid was either on something he shouldn't have been, or off something he should have been on. Whichever, he was dumb enough to bring a knife to a gun fight. Witness accounts say he threw his knife at her and the citizen who'd flagged her down, rather than drop his knife. Some try to say he lobbed it over her head, but others state she had to duck. As far as I'm concerned, this kid just assaulted a police officer. With a very sharp, potentially deadly weapon. She slowly approaches the teen now that he's no longer sporting a weapon, her gun drawn and tells him to lie on the ground.

But, Stupid isn't done. Instead of obeying the nice officer with the big gun, he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a second knife, unfolding it to use as a weapon, and takes several steps in her direction. I don't know about you, but someone with an edged weapon starts walking toward me, and I have a gun, I'm going to stop him by shooting him. I'd rather NOT take the chance that I'll be seriously injured, or worse, by trying to disarm him in a hand-to-hand fight. Especially if he's hopped up on something. Apparently this officer agrees with me because she shot him.

However, she didn't kill him. She merely wounded him. Deliberate or not, the teen survived with only a bullet hole to show for his stupidity. What does this officer have? Well, her life, thankfully. But not, apparently, the gratitude of those who called for assistance in the first place. The man who flagged her down and pointed the boy out says (and I quote) "We didn't call the police to do what they did [shoot the suspect]. They'd hoped officers could talk to the teen about what was troubling him." (word for word from the paper) The officer was also criticized by those in the church parking lot across the street for shooting because there were children outside. WHY WERE THEY OUTSIDE WHEN A CRAZY MAN WITH A KNIFE WAS PRESENT?!?

I've learned a few things, recently, about how the human mind responds to a physical threat. Joe Average Citizen takes 6 seconds to realize there's even a threat. It takes us another 3 to 6 seconds to RESPOND to that threat. At the other end of the spectrum is Joe Special Forces who has been trained to analyze, recognize and begin responding to a threat within those first 6 seconds. Somewhere in the middle is Joe Cop. He doesn't respond as fast as Joe Special Forces (unless he was one), but he DOES respond a lot faster than Joe Average Citizen. A threat we might not even recognize, or recognize fast enough, is assessed, the level of danger is determined and the officer responds accordingly.

People who criticize an officer for what they deem their "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude don't understand the threat officers have to live with on a daily basis. They don't just chase speeders or bank robbers. They go after gang members, rapists, murders, people who commit unspeakably violent acts without a care because they can. Except, there's this group of committed people who say, "No. You can't." They stand there and say "The Law says that's not allowed. And, I won't allow you to do it." They could get killed for making that choice. Worse, they could be permanently injured and/or maimed for making that stand. But, do we thank them?
Should we?
Oh, yes!
If not for them, anarchy would reign. People would die for simply looking at someone wrong. Thieves would steal even more than they do now (those who have been the victim of robbery know the feeling of violation and helplessness... that would be increased by a factor of 10 squared if not for the police)

I believe this officer acted correctly. The teen, by throwing his first knife at them, threatened both her life and that of the citizen next to her. He threatened her life even further by pulling out a second knife before he was shot. Nowhere in any of the accounts was it stated she simply went cowboy and started firing away. She made a fast, but informed decision that this teen was not going to respond to normal commands and was, in fact, going to cause harm. Smart woman.

Live woman.

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