Monday, May 14, 2007

Are the media and "civilized" society exacerbating psychological stress in police officers?

Today while reading one of my trade magazines, The National Psychologist, I came across an interesting article on the heavy psychological impact that police shootings have on law enforcement officers (LEOs):

It is well established that LEOs suffer an elevated incidence of stress-related problems (e.g., depression, alcohol and substance abuse, marital conflicts, divorce and suicide) with the negative effects impacting families and friends as well.

When an LEO is involved in a shooting, whether as the target of an offender or as a line-of-duty shooter, there is unbridled attention devoted to the incident by news media and the public.

It is commonplace for law enforcement agencies to require “administrative leave” (or something similar) while even a seemingly “clean shoot” is investigated. Media fan the flames and the burden of shooting someone (under any set of circumstances) results in profound stress.

According to the article, our society also contributes to the stress of an officer involved in a shooting:

Part of the problem is that our civilized society holds firmly to the notion that violence between people must not be countenanced (except in the commercial media!) This axiom applies even to LEOs who use any level of force, and most certainly deadly force, in the line of duty. The individual who must resort to taking the life of another person, even for the protection of self or others, has been reinforced to feel guilty and rendered incapable of finding psychological resolution of the relevant conflicts.

Certainly LEOs differ in their resilience to stress as well as abilities and resources for coping and affect regulation. Nonetheless, the social framework applies a special filter for shooting incidents, making life difficult for any LEO who engages in a shooting incident.

Notice that the incident itself is not what makes the officer guilty and stressed, it is the media and public making their lives miserable. If even police officers are made to feel guilty for protecting the lives of citizens by our "don't defend yourself or anyone else" culture and media, I can't imagine how civilians who had to use force are made to feel after an incident in which they had to protect themselves or others. The article goes on to look at why officers are afraid to ask for psychological help, but maybe the real question is: "why is the officer treated as a pariah instead of a hero for protecting others from mayhem?" For if they were treated as a hero, or at least with some respect for doing their job, then maybe, they could resolve the shooting incident a whole lot faster or on their own without professional help.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"why is the officer treated as a pariah instead of a hero for protecting others from mayhem?"


He shouldn't be treated as a pariah or a hero until things are sorted out. Not all police officers are heros.

People (and LEOs) react differently to stresses like shootings. Some people are very sensitive to it and some are not sensitive at all.

I'm not entirely sure what the point is here. Administrative leave is a good idea until things are sorted out. The public has a right to question and look into what happened. The public has a right to be skeptical of the results of some police departments. Police officers should be able to handle this stress to at least a certain extent, and hiring practices should reflect that.

7:09 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

since citizens wouldnt be treated the same way by the media when they defend themselvs...i imagine its much diffrent.

citizens who defend themselvs are much more likely to be treated as heroic by the media.

its the medias job to highlight police shootings and such to keep our policein check...

the problem is the idea the msm liberal media can sometimes have with assuming the officer was a pariah

7:43 PM, May 14, 2007  
Blogger Sarebear said...

I can say that here in Salt Lake, with the recent Trolley Square shooter, that the off-duty Ogden police officer who took it on himself to engage the shooter, as well as the other police officers that responded, are seen here as heroes.

7:52 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, a lot of it depends on the officer's jurisdiction. It's an unfortunate cop that works in a city that's experienced a lot of unrest and controversy over law enforcement's reaction to it. Los Angeles sounds like such a place. Probably Detroit as well. In my area, the Prince George's County Police Department is constantly under the media's microscope - probably with good reason. As usual, I think good people suffer for the misdeeds of a few.

Assuming their departments aren't the kind that are willing to throw their officers to the sharks for political reasons, at least police have some kind of support system to turn to following a shooting. It may be formal, provided by the jurisdiction, or informal - their fellow-officers.

As a civilian, I have always assumed that the perp's relatives and the legal system would get together and pretty much ruin my life.

8:15 PM, May 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

Check out the facts of the May Day violence between immigrant (legal or not) protesters in Los Angeles.

Out here, the only thing we hear is that the Officers involved will be brought to justice. There is absolutely no discussion of the actions of the crowd, and whether the Officers' actions were justifed.

9:15 PM, May 14, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...


...violence between the protesters and the police...

9:17 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for a police union. We trained our members how to respond to a critical incident -- who they would talk to, what forms and questions to expect, how others would be there for them immediately and also notify their family. The more prepared you are, the more you know what to expect afterward, the better prepared you are. The training takes over, yet you can expect to replay and replay and replay those critical seconds. Some people naturally will second guess themselves. As more facts become known, an officer can honestly evaluate his performance. Making a hero of someone who knows they are not is not advised. The main advice to give is that others have been in similar situations and are available to talk. What is done can't be undone, it must be accepted and lived with. All men are different in a personal regard but if they are well trained and cared for, they can move on.

9:25 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just the other day here in Montana, there was an incident in which a Highway Patrol officer and a deputy had to shoot at someone who had shot, and was at the time shooting, a shotgun at them. (he'd run over some stop sticks and popped a couple off at the patrolman and then drove off, only to be stopped down the road where he continued to shoot)

Both officers were put on paid administrative leave. Statements were issued saying the shooting had been deemed justified. As far as I can tell, no one has blamed either of them.

One other thing...the perp was a thirteen year old boy. And still, nobody is calling for heads on a platter. (well yet anyways)

11:56 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A coworker of mine was on a grand jury in a case involving a police officer who shot and killed a man who charged at him with a knife. The grand jury no billed the officer in the end, because legally it was justified, but my coworker relayed to me the horror of his impression of the whole situation.

"Why didn't the officer knock the knife out of his hand with the baton?"

"Why didn't he shoot him in the leg?"

"Why didn't he carry pepper spray?"

He had never heard of the 21 foot rule (someone within 21 feet of you with a drawn knife is an immediate and deadly threat), thought that being trained to hit the center of mass was appalling.

Now, this coworker was originally from Europe, and lives currently in New Jersey. But it does illustrate the fact that the general public has no education about these issues, especially in jurisdictions, like New Jersey, that are predominately left-leaning.

12:01 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

These events are also very stressful on the officer's family. They read the newspaper and watch the news about their parent or spouse and they worry.

It is a very difficult job, one I am not psychologically qualified for. I do not know how they deal.


12:58 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger The Skald said...

Sebastion, I think perhaps, that a possible reason one might be appalled by the LEO's actions is that people are often educated in what is acceptable defense of their own person. In many states on the east coast, one must flee a threatening situation if at all possible. I learned that the hard way while I was in the service stationed in New York. I learned that I should have fled (in my own house) to the far rear of the house and locked myself and my family in the bathroom.

I'm from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and the castle doctrine tends to prevail (so far), and like the gentleman from Montana, our police are rarely castigated unjustly. Despite this fact, many of our officers do have a difficult time after a shooting.

It isn't that we have the best answers, but in this case, I think the culture of the PNW mitigates against serious emotional problems after a shoot, and it also tends to make the citizens more understanding.


1:40 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those interested in the psychological affects of killing should read "On Killing:The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" by Dave Grossman. It has been 10 years since I read it but he hypothesized that PTSD derives from society not acknowledging the great sacrifice that a soldier or police officer make when they must act against their deeply held beliefs and nature and use deadly force. They don't want to be made heros, just to have their crossing the killing barrier acknowledged and accepted. Essentially, to have society to say "You did a hard thing that was necessary and it doesn't make you a bad person."

Regardless of routine "policy", when an officer is reassigned after a shooting, it is human nature that the change can be viewed as an admonishment for his actions. Even if those actions are subsequently deemed appropriate and justified. Look at it this way, you play football for years, making and losing a few yards but you show up every game. Then, the big play comes and you beat out the safety for a big touchdown. But your immediately sent to the bench and not allowed to play anymore while the refs review your goal for any hint of cheating. How would you feel?

2:14 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OTOH, although it's sad that cops get depressed after shooting someone, perhaps we needn't feel *too* sorry for them.

it's agreed that not all cops are wonderful superhumans. some are not-so-good; some are downright rotten. how many bad apples? 5%? 10%? 20%? maybe. odds - and the bell curve - would seem to make 20% of all police shootings "not kosher" to be a reasonable guess. so, using that logic, 20% of all cops should be getting prosecuted for bad shootings. just like john q. public would be.

does that happen? not likely. what IS the percentage of cops prosecuted for shootings? 2%? less?

here in vegas, the cops shoot quite a few folks every year; a goodly percentage of them unarmed. in one famous case, the cop fired 14 shots (!!) at a guy armed only with a basketball; in broad daylight. he managed to hit the guy just 4 times, which meant he sent 10 high-powered rounds whizzing into the busiest intersection in the city.

was he prosecuted? fired? brought up on civil-rights charges? LOL. this is vegas: *NO* cop has ever been charged for a bad shoot. he ended up getting promoted, just as you or i would if we unloaded a 14-shot magazine into traffic at an unarmed guy. there's another cop here who's killed 3 - count 'em - *3* unarmed guys. they finally got him off the streets after a rash of bad publicity. (but not one second before.) i could also talk about the shooting of the shirtless guy on his knees, surrounded by 8 cops. he ended up getting shot in his (bare) back, because the shooter cop "thought he saw the perp making a furtive movement towards his waistband." (DARN that 21-foot rule!) the cops involved later celebrated by printing up custom commemorative T-shirts. ("baby's daddy removal team".) (is that just another sign of crushing post-shooting depression?)

i rather suspect it's pretty much like that everyplace else. maybe not LA; maybe not new york - DARN that meddlesome media! - but pretty much everywhere else. so i'll pass on the tears for the cops, thanks.

2:23 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

Regarding deadly force:

Assume that if you ever have to use it, you will be attacked by the public as well as through the criminal and civil judicial systems, and you may well lose everything you have, including your freedom; and in the long run, your sanity and your life.

On the other hand, if the situation really requires it, the only alternative is instant death.

Those, unfortunately, are facts of life at this point in our history. I hope (but am not really hopeful) that continuing debate will ultimately educate enough of the public to turn the tide.

Sebastian: If a grand juror was not instructed on the 21 foot rule, or on the purpose of center mass training, before deciding whether to indict someone for unreasonable use of force, we are really in trouble...

2:31 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the cops involved later celebrated by printing up custom commemorative T-shirts. ("baby's daddy removal team".) (is that just another sign of crushing post-shooting depression?)

It's acknowledgment that in order to perform some of the toughest jobs in society, sometimes sick humor comes out to help them cope with their actions.

Assume that if you ever have to use it, you will be attacked by the public as well as through the criminal and civil judicial systems, and you may well lose everything you have, including your freedom; and in the long run, your sanity and your life.

I would respectfully disagree. American society holds police officers in high regard for the most part. It's that even when justified, no one particularly celebrates killing a mentally ill person or a kid, but if you are called on to make the decision, you do the best you can.

6:15 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Egon Bittner (no, Egon did not make the 2007 list for favorite boy names), a legendary academician on police studies, posited that the role of the police officer has transformed over the centuries from watchman to the government’s use of force. He felt that society has progressively advanced to a more peaceful and less violent culture, and that police are now responsible to maintain the desired peace through force. This use of force mandate sets police officers apart from society. As a result, many in the public see the violence used by officers in even appropriate force situations as disturbing and outside the norm. For the media, police actions generate viewer interest, and one result is increased officer stress.

An officer is aware of the media attention that will follow a deadly force incident, but he/she should not let side issues impair the split-second decision-making necessary to survive a confrontation. Unfortunately, not all officers handle the potential for extreme stress well. I knew a plain-clothes officer in a Middle TN community who struggled with a subject over a gun during an undercover drug sting. The officer managed to take the offender’s gun and no one was seriously injured during the incident. After the incident, an internal investigator asked the officer why he did not shoot the subject when he saw the offender pull a handgun from his waistband. The white officer’s response was that he did not want to put his family through the media attention that could have resulted from his use of deadly force. The officer left police work less than 12 months later.

I think an illustration of media coverage of a police shooting that adds to police stress is this one:

Notice the title of the article: “Feud Turned Deadly…” Justified or not, would not a neutral title been more appropriate? With this intro, a reader is encouraged to think: “Ok, this officer was pursuing a personal vendetta" rather than weighing both sides of the story and considering that the seldom employed armed defendant, who had a history of confrontation including a recent arrest history, was resisting arrest when he shot the officer four times and ran his car over the officer's body.

7:00 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TOMCAL noted the disarray in Los Angeles towards LEO.

60 % of Officers in the LAPD are under 5 years experience. When they can ... they leave. This is not a good thing.

When the Last Hero Leaves L.A., Will Anybody Notice?

7:55 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Grim said...

I think you're onto something here, doctor. Communities that understand the proper use of force exist, though, even if the overarching culture is poisonous on that score.

I recall a shooting in Atlanta in which an older gentleman (a plain citizen, not an LEO) defended his business from an armed robber with a shotgun. That is to say, he blasted the robber and killed him.

The news interviewed him shortly thereafter, once the police had cleared him of any danger of arrest. He said that ever since the shooting, he'd been receiving letters of congratulation from his fellow citizens, often accompanied by boxes of ammunition for his shotgun.

I'd have to say that probably cheered him up considerably. Most likely it also sent a message to any armed robbers watching the local news.

10:18 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

Anon 6:15:

I hope you are right.

10:25 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Caleb said...

...I find Dr. Helen's recent piece on the guilt/emotional reaction had by LEO's when they are involved in a shooting, good or otherwise. She goes on to ask if Law Enforcement officers are made to feel guilty by society for killing, how much more so are armed civilians that are involved in shoots?

10:26 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest no-nos in our society is killing people.
Cops and soldiers are given official permission to kill, under specific circumstances.
Is the official permission sufficient to overcome society's conditioning? Probably not. So the conflict after killing is inevitable.
John Keegan, in one of his books on war, referred to the battle at Crecy where some thousands of men were killed by "handstrokes", which is to say, edged weapons whose handles were held by men while the edges and points were thrust into other men. It is said that one can feel the heart spasming on the other end of a sword or knife.
It would be interesting to know if soldiers of those days felt the same.

10:31 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Mike said...

The problem with the media is that it never seems to focus resources on the cases where the police use excessive force in unjustified ways. For example, when was the last time you saw a Rodney King-level of attention brought to a case like that of Sal Culosi in Fairfax County, VA. The man was a small time gambler and a wealthy doctor, and had a SWAT unit called to arrest him. One SWAT officer shot him through the heart by accident. No media attention worth talking about, even though it was actually more uncalled for than cases like the Rodney King one, and one where conservatives and liberals alike would have agreed that that level of force was pure corruption.

And what about the case of the former marine who was literally murdered by police on the steps of his neighbor's house in Delaware a few months ago? He was just sitting there, wasn't part of the investigation. They tasered him until he couldn't move, then ordered him to move and squeezed off a few rounds into him as "a threat."

This is why I despise the media with a passion on civil liberties issue. They are agents of chaos, not public watchdogs. They like to screw with the police rather than watch them, and shine the light of scrutiny on egregious cases.

10:32 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Grim said...

By coincidence, Sal Culosi was my eye doctor when I lived in Virginia. I wrote about his death at the time. He was a good man, and you make a good point -- law enforcement officers can misuse violence the same as anyone.

What we need are ethical principles that apply to all citizens equally, LEOs and plain citizens. If violence was just, we should praise it. If it was unjust, we should condemn it. A citizen making a proper citizen's arrest, or defending himself or another against violence, or an LEO making a peace officer's arrest or defending himself or others -- those are just uses of violence, and should be praised.

Meanwhile, recklessness even in a good cause is not good. And pure injustice, which can also happen (and to which the police may be especially susceptible in some corrupt departments) ought also to be condemned.

10:38 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger DWPittelli said...

Maybe instead of calling it "Administrative Leave" they should call it a "Paid Vacation." Within 24 hours of a shooting, if the cop ("LEO" -- give me a break) is able, debrief him (preferably with a site visit). The next day, fly him and family to Hawaii (or maybe the Ozarks or the Catskills etc.) for two weeks vacation, with, yes, some counseling available, if not required.

Then he comes back to whatever's facing him, including his latest duty, if he wants it and he's not in trouble for breaking procedures or the law.

10:38 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

The answer, if there is one, to your article is Kathryn Johnston. Remember when she was shot because the officers had heard that cocaine was being sold from that house, that she shot at them and they were just trying to defend themselves, and that, anyway, they found marijuana in the house?

Remember how every last detail that I just mentioned was completely fabricated by three dirty cops trying to cover up their killing of a harmless old lady?

Police officers are rarely prosecuted for crimes against civilians. Even in the Johnston case, the sentences that the first two have are sadly short for the magnitude of not only the crime of killing her, but the unlawful events that led up to it and the subsequent cover up.

In the absence of fixing that problem, it seems ot make sense that we would at least closely scrutinize any time our "protectors" kill or shoot somebody.

11:13 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Kohath said...

The media add psychological stress to everyone. There's a growing sense of unreality in the news and in society in general. The public perception is that "nothing should ever go wrong". And when it does, someone has acted evilly, is guilty, and must be punished.

This is also due, in part, to trial lawyers who stand to make money whenever anything goes wrong and make more money when someone is punished for it.

The unreal standard of perfection leads to all manner of psychological stress. When something is consistently imperfect, the new way of dealing with it is to invent paranoid conspiracy theories to explain it. It's easier than determination or resigned longsuffering endurance.

Folks need to be encouraged to simply not watch the news or read newspapers. It's the most beneficial thing most people can do for their mental health.


(Also emailed to Instapundit)

11:23 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media cherry-pick stories for maximum public outrage (usually race-based) but don't really drill down to the depper narrative. After a while, police departments begin to fee under siege. This results in the erection of a "Blue Wall of Silence" as a natural reaction / protective measure, since all or most cops lose faith in the media and start to think that they could be media-lynched for their actions whether justified or not. Of course, once this wall goes up, it has the effect of protecting the bad cops as well as the good. The good cops protect the bad ones, not because they support their actions, but because they hate/distrust the media, "civil rights groups", etc, and because they don't want any blood in the water which could set off a feeding frenzy which will drag them down to. Basically, once the media, etc decides to go to war with the cops, the cops will respond, with at least passive resistance.

Police shootings can be broken down into 3 categories - Justified, Error and Criminal, with the vast majority falling into the first two (and the second may, sadly, the biggest). Until society and the media acknowledge the "Error" category cops will be too scared to premit the sort of reflection that is needed to cut down on this type of shooting. If an error is made, it needs to be investigated so that it can be corrected - was it a failure of training or doctrine? Is the cop in question just not cut out to be a cop (not because he's bad, but because he is too jumpy)? Or maybe the mistake was excusable because of the actions of the victim and/or others at the scene. If an error occurs, then the department needs to apologize and pay fair compensation to the family.

But let's be real - if Al Sharpton is in the streets braying for your blood and John Edwards' friends are looking to sue you to death, you're not going to do any of the above; instead you'll clam up. lawyer up and refuse to acknowledge any responsibility.

And thus we are here.

11:41 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the problems police have is self-induced. Over my lifetime police have moved from being members of the society they serve into a quasi military occupying force. Cops tend not to socialize with non-cops. People therefore aren't likely to know a cop personally.

Additionally, I believe the blue wall of silence covers up most misbehavior by police. I think it is entirely rational to regard police explanations of shootings with great skepticism unless the facts are clear.

11:42 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

This is related to a disturbing trend in our society in which prestige increasingly goes to jobs which are *advisory* rather than *operational* in nature--"staff" vs "line" in the old terminology. There are a lot of elite-college grads who would rather be consultants than executives; who would rather write papers on "the future of air traffic control in 2020" than be the tower manager in Atlanta.

This trend leads to an increasing lack of empathy for those who actually must make decisions, especially decisions under time constraint and imperfect information.

11:44 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After VT, they are probably afraid that any contact with the "Shrinks" will cause them to lose their right to possess a gun and therefore their employment. Not a baseless fear in the face of BATF's May 9th letter to state AG's.

11:47 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the hardest realities of life for many people to accept is that there are often no solutions, only tradeoffs. Thomas Sowell has written quite a lot on this theme.

There is no level of scrutiny so low or of public support so high as to guarantee that every LEO will feel like a hero when he has to do what we all acknowledge to be a tough duty. On the other hand, there is no level of scrutiny so high or of public support so low as to guarantee that every bad cop will be detected and pilloried.

In other words, there will always be cops that suffer PTSD over a killing even though they have clearly done the gene pool a service. There will also always be crooked cops who escape justice.

Voltaire famously said that "Best is enemy to Good." We can recognize that the system will be imperfect, and make a reasonable effort to strike the right balance. This implies some public scrutiny informed by common sense. It's the healthy approach.

Or we can view every cop who suffers for a justified killing, or every crooked cop who seems to be escaping justice, as a sweeping indictment of the whole system. This is not healthy and violates all common sense -- particularly when the same people do both at the same time.

Now here's the irony: The communities out West spoken of here, where the castle doctrine prevails and cops are generally supported by their communities, seem not to be the communities where you hear about crooked cops shooting old ladies. You hear about crooked cops shooting old ladies, or beating up motorists, in cities where the cops are not much liked.

I'm guessing that, when cops feel they have the support of the community, they are much less less likely to close ranks when there is a questionable shooting. When the cops have the attitude that "everybody is a perp" and it's cops versus civil society, the opposite is likely to be the case.

It's kind of like the Laffer curve. Tax the public hard enough, and you can actually decrease tax revenues. Scrutinize the cops with a big enough chip on your shoulder, and you are actually less likely to identify the bad ones. But, whereas cutting high taxes revives the economy fairly quickly, reducing scrutiny of a long-maligned police force is likely to be counterproductive.

My guess is that Atlanta (where the old lady was shot) is far along the path of the cops closing ranks against a hostile public. Meaning, they're hosed, because there isn't going to be an easy solution to their problems. The public now has excellent reason to be hostile, yet their hostily towards the police exacerbates the problem. Catch-22.

Salt Lake City may be too much in love with its cops, and a touch more scrutiny might be a good thing. On the other hand, I've not heard of any old ladies being shot there, so maybe there really isn't a problem to be fixed.

12:02 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger NSC said...

I am a law enforcement officer and one thing I have noticed is that people seem to believe that officers should be able to act like the heros in the movies. They think we can shoot knives out of hands at 100 yards and get in fights with five guys, be shot and stabbed, and still fight on without really injuring the bad guy.

A few years ago a slightly retarded (is that a non-PC word now) man was harrassing his neighbors and two officers were called in to subdue him. He started swinging a shovel at the officers, even after being pepper-sprayed, and ultimately one officer was forced to shoot him because he was attacking the other. Of course there was a firestorm over the shooting with the media and the family saying that the officers should have simply disarmed him or shot the shovel out of his hands, but the thing is, how does a shovel really differ from an axe? Were the officers supposed to take a hit to the head with the sharp end of the thing JUST so they didn't have to shoot him? My answer is no, but the public seems to think yes.

The fact is officers are not paid to take seriously bodily injury or die just so a bad guy doesn't get killed or injured. Sure we expect some bumps and bruises, but like heck are we supposed to be cut simply because a guy was stupid enough to bring a knife to a gun fight.

12:04 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Dewave said...

There is entirely too much villification of police officers for shooting criminals, and not nearly enough villification of police departments that wind up shooting innocent people.

If a policeman faces a criminal and shoots him dead, great! Applause should follow. The policeman has made the world a better and safer place, at personal risk to himself, as well as emotional trauma. All the second guessing about whether he absolutely needed to shoot the criminal dead or maybe he could have just winged him or used psyionic blastwaves to disarm the criminal is the purest form of idiocy.

On the other hand, in our extremely misguided 'war on drugs' we have police officers barging into the homes of **innocent people** in the dead of night and mowing them down in a hail of gunfire: these officers, but more importantly, the higher ups in the chain who enabled such a horrible mistake to happen and are setting swat teams to take people who may or may not be innocent, need to be made very public examples of. Their careers should be over and they should be disgraced.

12:20 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with NSC@12:04. I wonder if violence in movies and TV hasn't given the public the erroneous idea that chaotic situations like this can be controlled and the police are trained to control any threat.

Similarly, I think our military personnel are made to feel guilty for protecting the lives of citizens by our "don't defend yourself or anyone else" culture and media.


12:37 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, as bad is the media are locak race-hustlers are, local politicians (essentially the cops' bosses) are often worse. Especially white politicians eager to buff up their minority-hugging cred - here's looking at you, Mayor Bloomberg. Though we shouldn't foreget black members of the NY City Council who seem eager to start a race riot (or at least use the threat of one for blackmai purposes).

What is so damned hard about saying something like "Whenever a life is lost, we take it seriously. The appropriate authorities are investigating and I will wait on the report before reaching a conclusion".

12:44 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

>>"why is the officer treated as a pariah instead of a hero for protecting others from mayhem?"

Because a large segment of our society is fatally confused as to whether the application of the appropriate level of violence for honorable, protective purposes is heroic or not.

Including those who apply violence for honorable purposes in the class of people who are laudable is ideologically inconsistent with their dogma.

12:50 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger pst314 said...

"One of the problems police have is self-induced."

The problem is not self-induced: Ever since the 60's, so-called liberals have routinely demonized the police while praising and defending thugs. It is entirely reasonable for law officers to regard such liberals as their enemies--and enemies of civilized society.

Sure, cops occasionally do wrong, but it is entirely rational to regard liberal rhetoric on the subject with great skepticism.

1:20 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger GeorgeH said...

My son is a cop, in a jurisdiction that is very supportive, but there is still plenty of stress over a shooting.

Doing shift work is inherently stressful on a family, even in a non threatening profession.

It may be unfair, but I question the sanity of anyone who becomes a LEO in New Jersey, California, NYC, Chicago. I think anyone who is rational and wanted to be a cop would go elsewhere.

1:22 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we really think that a cop can shoot someone and just carry on with no trouble? Before the media started making them feel guilty for defending themselves, did cops used to shoot people and not feel anything? Or are we wanting cops to be like Clint Eastwood in the movies? I've never shot anyone--justified or not--so I don't know the answers. Can anyone else speak from personal experience?

2:47 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also via

Initial reports on the May Day incident in the L.A. Times listed 10 people as being injured. Days later they added 7 more injuries, they left out the police officers from their their first report.

3:17 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

"since citizens wouldnt be treated the same way by the media . . . citizens who defend themselvs are much more likely to be treated as heroic by the media."

I agree with your first statement, but your second is a bit questionable. I rarely see the media treating self-defense as heroic. See the Feud turned deadly article in one of the Boston papers.

"a goodly percentage of them unarmed"

1. You don't have to be armed to be an immediate physical threat.

2. When you act aggressively toward law enforcement, they have no choice but to assume that you're armed, whether you are or not.

If the media and the public were half as "concerned" about drive-by shootings, car jackings, home invasions, and murders as they are "police brutality," we'd have less crime.

3:38 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Dewave said...

citizens who defend themselvs are much more likely to be treated as heroic by the media

Actually, the media is likely to be extremely hostile to *anyone* who defends themselves. Especially if evil guns are involved. Don't you know that the dominant meme is to meekly go along with your attackers and submit to their every demand?

Defending yourself against the criminal is just not fair to the criminal, and thus must be avoided.

The one group of people whose self defense the media likes to applaud are the groups of folks engaged in combatting "Western Imperialism"

4:08 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous@11:42 brings up an interesting point.

I seem to remember reading somewhere about a shift that occurred in policing around the middle of last century. At some point, it was decided that a police officer should no longer be a neighborhood fixture (good ol' Officer O'Malley walking his beat), but rather an impersonal, incorruptible instrument of the State. If I understand the theory correctly, by holding themselves aloof from civilians, officers would be less likely to succumb to favoritism, bribery and other forms of corruption. It also kept the criminals off balance by making the individual cop an unknown quantity. The widespread use of patrol cars with radios enhanced the effect.

The flipside of this approach is that cops and the people they were supposed to be "protecting and serving" were now alien to each other. Some people trust aliens, but a lot of people don't.

Not sure that's accurate. Anybody else know anything about the history of the Theory of Policing?

5:16 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bugs makes some excellent points. i'm just old enough to remember the very last 'officer friendly''s, who seemed to fade away along about....1967? 68? somewhere in there.

replaced by the mirror-glasses wearing, grim-faced, allegedly highly professional praetorians we've got among us today. you know: the guys who like to dress up like soldiers and ninjas; the guys buying up military weaponry, including armored vehicles; the guys doing ever more "felony stops".... the guys who refer to their fellow citizens as "civilians".

officer friendly carried a 5-or 6-shot .38. our new praetorians carry 15 to 18 shot .40's, and .45's. go to any cop board, and you'll see the 9mm scorned as "too lightweight". you'll see SWAT behavior idolized; right up to the enthusiastic endorsing of "always shoot the family dog", because god forbid a praetorian find himself inconvenienced or nipped by a cocker spaniel.

how does this behavior fit into the "theory of policing"? how can any rational person view behavior like this as anything BUT a police-state prelude?

7:11 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The loss of the foot patrol came with about due to the economics of car patrols. The LEO in a car could cover more area and also reach adjoining patrol areas quickly. It also permitted the consolidation of command into service centers rather than precincts. Also, a driving factor was suburbanization which is not effectively covered by a foot patrol.

The foot patrol went the way of the stroll to the local grocery and sitting on the stoop in summer. Note that the shift to cars happened right along with the shift to families being locked away watching TVs.

7:27 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If others have already said this, I apologize. I'm working on a laptop, which is hard on my neck and back, so I'm jumping in without reading others' comments.

So--we are familiar with the profound stress put on LEO's in our community, as a citizen's review committee often gets involved and may decide the officer used unnecessary force. The person who was shot by police is a criminal such a high percentage of the time, it seems silly to say it. Yet the family gets press and TV time to bewail the life of son/brother/father/uncle who was such a good person; everyone loved him, he had such a great smile and made everyone feel good, etc. Of course, we subsequently read that the person had multiple arrests and convictions related to drugs, weapons, had a gun with him at the time (may have been trying to shoot the officer), etc., ad nauseum.

Bruce and I get angry with this routine and the public's meddling, as we appreciate our officers, just as we appreciate our military who are putting it all out there to protect us all. One focus is local, the other is global, but it seems to me to be the same dynamic, and it handicaps both our troops and our LEO's.

10:27 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cops (and their spouses)(see above) view the public questioning a police shooting as "meddling"?

*that's* an interesting mindset. regal. haughty. dare we say "praetorian"? "the civilians will follow the orders given them, and be silent!"?

questioning/investigating police shoots is *entirely* different from questioning military tactics/actions. the military does what they do: they kill (foreign)(enemy) people, and break things. but that's not what cops are supposed to be for. things appear to be changing, huh? is that how cops now see their jobs? see themselves? see US?? us *american citizens*? as the meddling "enemy"?

2:22 AM, May 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon@2:22 - Not sure if you're the same anon I agreed with earlier, but if so then I kind of disagree this time. I think if a police state were in the cards, it would have become a reality long before now. I would also submit that the increase in police firepower has been largely in response to the increase in criminals' firepower, not because the police want more control over ordinary citizens.

However, your point about the relationship between police and civilians is well taken. The government has power, the police exercise that power directly on our persons and property, and so we as citizens have a right to question their methods, policies, and behavior. That's just basic democracy. They work for us, not the other way around.

My earlier point was that police and civilians have been institutionally isolated from each other to such a degree that, in many places, we no longer understand or trust each other. This makes us more likely to attribute sinister motives to the police, and the police more likely to close ranks when we ask them to explain their actions. The desire for simple accountability is replaced by paranoia and second-guessing. The desire to serve the community is replaced by hatred of the community. It's a cycle suspicion and blame that doesn't helpe the cause of public safety - but does, coincidentally, help sell newspapers.

10:28 AM, May 16, 2007  
Blogger Webutante said...

This tying the hands of police officers is the same as limiting the rules of engagement in the war in Iraq which has proven to be counter-productive.

In a politically correct world there is supposed to be no war, no guns, no conflict, no anger and no yelling. That straight-jacket coupled with constant obsessive media attention, is enough to give pause to even the best and most solid of law enforcement officers.

I had no idea of this trend, but now that you mention it, am not that surprised.

11:08 AM, May 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:22,

I'm curious how you think law enforcement should be carried out. Should we have police? How should they be equipped? What should the police powers be?

12:16 PM, May 16, 2007  
Blogger ricpic said...

"...violence between people..."

It is not violence between people. It is violence from an enemy of society, a criminal, a thug, directed against a defender of society, which the defender of society responds to in the defense of himself and of all of us. There is no equivalence. And the attempt to promolgate an equivalence is obscene.

8:04 PM, May 16, 2007  
Blogger Jeff Stahl,MA,LCPC said...

First I must commend you for definitely having an opinion on this case. I do somewhat disagree. First off, I don’t see where "the incident itself is not what makes the officer guilty and stressed" was stated; maybe it was somewhere else in the article. I think most normal individuals would have some response to harming another and it would involve some process to resolve those feelings. I am involved in post deployment assessments with soldiers and many regularly exhibit these feelings. I also agree that all people in positions of authority are not always good so that certain systems keep them accountable. I believe people chose their vocations for a reason and I've seen many LEO's with self-esteem and control issues. I base these observations on my years in the domestic violence field. Lastly, violence is rampant in our society and needs to have checks on both sides. It would do us well to examine European or Scandinavian law enforcement, which has a much lower violent death rate.

8:50 PM, May 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff wrote: "First off, I don’t see where "the incident itself is not what makes the officer guilty and stressed" was stated; maybe it was somewhere else in the article."

You may be wrong to be skeptical. We used to think that the way sexual abuse happened determined how traumatic it was. Since the research has been done, we found that the way people respond to the survivor and the perpetrator has more to do with how difficult the abuse is to deal with. It is about relationships.

Best case scenario is when significant others have a positive relationship with and view of the victim, they have a negative view of the pervert, and the victim is allowed to have a negative view of the pervert. Makes sense when you think about it, the relational field makes it clear who was bad and wrong and who was mistreated and wronged.

Worst case is when the victim has a positive view of and relationship with the perpetrator, significant others have a negative relationship with and view of the victim, and they have a positive relationship with the perp.

I think that this relational impact would likely apply to an officer after a fatal shooting as well. Or soldiers coming back from a war too. The cultural field gives meaning to the events which heal or harm.


10:04 PM, May 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey kent. "anon 2:22 here."

you asked 'better ways of policing', and i've been thinking about it some. there's a lot that's wrong with the current police mindset these days: growing militarization; "us vs. them"; etc.

i won't comment on that; nor will i make any more lists of police outrages. we all know the deal. but 'better ways'? hmmm. tough one.

ok: let's try this. you know what the unofficial combat doctrine of the marine corps is? "escalate the conflict till you win". as near as i can tell, that's pretty much how cops operate, too. *but cops aren't marines*. there is no war going on. no national security being safeguarded. so why do cops HAVE TO win each and every confrontation RIGHT NOW? a better way? how about we institute a new mindset among the cops, enforceable by **loss of their pensions** if they refuse to do it?

the bank robber making his getaway at 100 mph? chasing him at 105 mph is just gonna make him try driving on the wrong side of the freeway, a la jason bourne. let the chopper follow him. the overwrought 15-year-old having a teenage crisis who refuses police "commands" (don't get me started) to drop the knife? why not *run away* if he gets within the holy 21 feet, rather than shooting to kill?

i know talk like this is anathema to cops. "meddling civilians!", they'll say. "cops don't run away for anyone ever!", they'll growl. (just like the hell's angels, BTW. just like the vice lords.) but the fact remains that cops *aren't* praetorians; they're *not* a bigger & tougher gang than the crips; nor are they an occupying force prone to deadly force when their "commands" aren't instantly obeyed.

so why should we allow them to act that way?

4:16 AM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Anonymous 4:16 said,

"so why should we allow them to act that way?"

Deadly force that is extreme is certainly a problem, especially when there are circumstances like those in the Kathryn Johnston case where a drug raid led to an innocent woman's death.

However, if the police encounter the 15 year old with the "teenage crisis" or speeding bank robber, etc. they do not know what will happen if the person gets away. The larger society is at risk--will the person take a hostage, hurt someone else, etc? So running away as you say is not really an option in many cases. If everyone runs away when dangerous people are acting up, who will stop them from harming others? Our society already has too many people willing to run away anytime anything unpleasant happens, why would asking the police to run also help? It only gives the criminals free rein. I lived in NYC in the 1980's and your method was alive and well there, no one would come to anyone's aid, not even the police. It was an awful place to be.

6:21 AM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Anon who said cops carry 15 to 18 round pistols. Jus tso you know, I think a cop woul dhave to have hands bigger than a baseball catchers mitt to be able to grip a .45acp pistol that carries 15 to 18 rounds. Or be about as large as a regular college offensive lineman.

9:39 AM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just thinking out loud here:

One of the principles of our justice system is that it's better to allow one guilty man to go free than for one innocent man to be punished. Should the same principle apply to law enforcement?

I understand that principles and practicality aren't always comfortable together. Just asking...

11:05 AM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading this story

I know that if I were an LAPD cop, I'd quit and move to greener pastures. This is not a judgment on their alleged axcesses in breaking up the protest in question - rather a judgment on the wisdom and character of their boss, the mayor, who is almost eager to condemn and pre-judge before any investigation has been carried out, and a media and political culture that is cool with that approach. With a boss like that, who needs enemies?

Oh and as to..

"the overwrought 15-year-old having a teenage crisis who refuses police "commands" (don't get me started) to drop the knife? why not *run away* if he gets within the holy 21 feet, rather than shooting to kill? "

-And when he then stabs someone else? Oy Vay - the lawsuits that will follow for police negligence, dereliction of duty. We pay cops to put themselves between us and criminals. We don't pay them enough to get stabbed on a routine basis. And without cops willing to get between us and the bad guys, it would be the unarmed, gun-fearing liberals who would be the first to go under. Hmmm .. maybe not such a bad idea?

11:23 AM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger Dewave said...

One of the principles of our justice system is that it's better to allow one guilty man to go free than for one innocent man to be punished.

It's certainly not better for society as a whole: the loss of one innocent man removed from wrongly from society is less than the loss by wrongly letting a dangerous criminal loose in society.

Of course, who wants to be the innocent man jailed for the greater good of 'society'?

It's a balancing act: convicting everyone 'just to be safe' is bad, convicting no one under the 'better that 100 guilty men should go free than 1 innocent man suffer' is also bad. Letting 100 guilty men roam the streets is definitely going to lead to innocent suffering.

11:29 AM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Helen, I was wondering what you thought about the McKay/Kenney incident and how it relates to how the media exacerbates psychological stress in police officers.

This is the story regarding the citizen that witnessed a police officer being shot and then picked up the police officers weapon and shot the assailant.

One version from the Boston Globe depicts the assailant as "a gentle hippie from the north country." However, the Boston Globe neglected to mention the past history of Liko Kenney that shows a much darker side.

Via the Concord Monitor we see that the assailant had a history of violence, including having an aunt place a restraining order on him.

1:10 PM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Globe must have updated their story, because they do mention Kenney being convicted of assault against McKay in 2003. There was definitely some history between those two.

The Monitor article goes into much greater detail, though. Kenney sounds like a "troubled young man," as the expression goes.

Is there a psychiatric name for that sort of person - the sad, redneck-y guy who's never really grown up, is always in trouble and believes he's being persecuted, abuses whatever substances he can get hold of, acts out his every emotion, and is generally out of control? He's the guy you see in the back of the cruiser every time you watch "Cops." That's who Kenney sounds like.

5:26 PM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"sad, *redneck-y* guy"??

oh, so now it's ok to do stereotypes? as long as it's limited to "rednecky" guys?

funny thing: every time *I* see "cops" as i'm channel surfing, the guys *I* see in the back of the police cruisers always seem to be...a young black male; who's never really grown up; is always in trouble and believes he's being persecuted; abuses whatever substances he can get ahold of; acts out his every emotion and the consequences be darned; and is generally out of control? ("i HAD to kill him, man. he *dissed* me!")

can we make stereotyping comments about *those* kind of guys, TOO? "there sure seem to be a whole lot of black guys in prison, huh?" or is that just - you know - "wrong"? or - since we're on the subject of police work - homicide cops will tell you that the bloodiest, most savage, most horrifically brutal murders they see tend to be committed gay male upon another gay male. can we make stereotypic commentary and inferences upon gay males based upon this knowledge? "whoo! when a gay guy snaps, watch out!!" no? it's limited to just "redneck" "guys"?

although most folks in the northeast, and the midwest, and california still don't realize it, "deliverance" was just a movie. or shall we next talk about the garden spots of the south bronx? or roxbury? or baltimore? detroit? st. louis? gary? oakland? compton? etc etc?

9:10 PM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bugs, your "rednecky" comment made me raise my eyebrow, too. Do you have a story? I don't watch Cops, so I don't know what those shows are like but when I think of "rednecky," criminal behavior isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

10:28 PM, May 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, so much anonymous bullshit, so little bandwidth. Where to start?

Well, Saint Anonymous@9:10 is partially correct: I was born in California. My parents, however, were both from rural Georgia as were their ancestors going back at least to 1824. I spent a good part of my youth there and in other parts of the South. I still live in Virginia. About half of my relatives are what used to be called "respectable" people. (Although my grandfather, true to his rural background, occasionally shot at stray dogs from the front porch of his house in town.) The rest of them are, or in some cases were, rednecks.

By that I do not mean they are stereotypical NASCAR and country music fans. I mean they are actual poverty-stricken, alcoholic, drug-abusing, wife-beating, moonshining, welfare-collecting, trailer-dwelling, rusted-out-car-driving, deer-poaching, detox-failing, non-child-support-paying smelly old rednecks. Maybe they can't help the shape they're in or maybe they can. But there they are.

They're not especially funny, either. One might even describe them - at the risk of offending the hypersensitive - "sad." My youngest cousin did drugs, alcohol, prostitution, unwed marriage, lived in her boyfriend's car, sponged off my grandmother for a while, then blew her head off with a shotgun. Her brother was just a run-of-the-mill alcoholic carpet installer who killed himself when he ran into an abutment while on his fifth or sixth DWI excursion. My second-oldest cousin was an actual moonshiner - no joke - and drug dealer who lived in a trailer and weighed upwards of three hundred pounds depending on how much illegal deer meat he had consumed. After his final scrape with the law, he somehow managed to get a nice job changing tires on Highway Department tractors. This lasted until one of the tires exploded and blew his right arm mostly off, causing him to go on disability. After that he went downhill and drank himself to death. His daughter had long since ceased having anything to do with him because he abused her. She ran off with another drug dealer who eventually dumped her in France with no money and no way home. She had to be rescued by my aunt, whom she considered more of a mother than her biological one who was also an abusive alcoholic. Now she lives in - you guessed it - a trailer on my aunt's farm with her druggie boyfriend and his druggie brother. They are all under surveillance by the State Police because they like to grow pot in the woods behind their place. Both brothers have been in jail numerous times for offenses major and minor, and they show no signs of mending their ways. The younger one swears the cops have a grudge against him. Yet another cousin somehow got out of there and married a Mormon. She lost her husband, her kids, and just about everything else due to - you guessed it again - drug abuse and alcoholism. Nobody's heard from her in a while, so we're not sure if she's still alive.

Every time I catch an episode of "Cops," I half expect to see some relative of mine being pursued through a field, tackled, handcuffed and taken away, all the while protesting that he didn't do nothin' wrong and the crack pipe and twenty ounces of weed in his pants pocket belong to somebody else. Even if it's not a relative, I know that whoever it is will be repeating that little scene over and over until he's dead.

And to make a complex story simple: there but for the grace of God go I.

So yeah, as a matter of fact I DO know something about "sad, redneck-y" people. Stereotype to you, personal fucking reality to me. I didn't mention fucked-up inner-city black people because I don't know any and because Mr. Kenner of rural Hampshire probably isn't one. Thanks for bringing it up, though.

But to restate my original question - which you were polite enough to completely ignore - What do mental health counselors call this type of dysfunctional lifestyle? Is it considered due to a mental disorder, or does the blame fall on entirely on abusive background, drugs, and alcohol. And how do counselors try to help people who live like this?

12:25 AM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite a story, Bugs. You must walk a fine line between wanting to help and wanting to stay away.

"And how do counselors try to help people who live like this?" My guess is that those people don't go to counselors. I'll let one of the shrink-types answer about what to call that lifestyle. People don't end up living a life of petty crime without support from the culture around them--no matter what color the people are. The ghetto punks who smoke crack and knock off convenience stores or the rural punks who run moonshine--they live in cultures where the law simply doesn't matter.

8:46 AM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True stories, I assure you. There's more - like the UFO scare they had a while back - but you get the picture.

Having calmed down a bit, I feel I should apologize if I used the term "redneck" in the wrong context. It's a vague term these days. To some, it means any conservative, white, male, Southerner. That's probably the way anonymous and anonymom took it. To me, however, redneck means...well, what I described in the previous comment. Poor, rural, dysfunctional, criminal, out of control. Region doesn't matter anymore.

So anyway, since I'm responsible for my own words, I'm sorry if the "R-word" offended anyone.

And since I don't know any way to drag this comment back to the original topic - cops and newspapers - I think I'll just knock it off right here.

10:58 AM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just curious about why all the perps in Cops are rednecks to you and something else to other people. Now I understand.

2:07 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My fault for being unclear. Obviously, Cops features a diverse cross-section of our nation's miscreants. Sometimes they're amusing, sometimes they're sad. And sometimes they remind me of home!

Wherever they live and whatever color they are, their common problem seems to be a lack of impulse control. I always wonder whether that's due to upbringing and environment or to all the drugs and/or booze they typically consume. Maybe it's all of that. I wonder what Kenney's story was.

And back to the subject of cops - these people are one of the main reasons I never considered becoming one. Can you imagine having the job of babysitting them day in and day out - arresting them over and over and watching while they slowly kill themselves? Maybe sometimes jail is the best place for them - they can't control themselves so maybe they'll do better in a place where someone else controls them 24/7. But probably, beyond locking them up or referring them to Social Services, there's probably not much you can do for them.

Too damn depressing. Another reason not to be too hard on cops in general. I don't know how they do it.

2:47 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I am a southerner, and when someone else uses the word redneck properly, I am in no way offended. The term refers to under-educated, under-socialized southern whites. When it is used to characterize us all, I do get offended.

Just my take on it.


3:16 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course there was a firestorm over the shooting with the media and the family saying that the officers should have simply disarmed him or shot the shovel out of his hands, but the thing is, how does a shovel really differ from an axe? Were the officers supposed to take a hit to the head with the sharp end of the thing JUST so they didn't have to shoot him? My answer is no, but the public seems to think yes.

The fact is officers are not paid to take seriously bodily injury or die just so a bad guy doesn't get killed or injured. Sure we expect some bumps and bruises, but like heck are we supposed to be cut simply because a guy was stupid enough to bring a knife to a gun fight.

If you are serious, your department should look into providing you with pepper spray and Tasers. Works wonders in taking out a shovel. Less cleanup.

3:29 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know from rednecks. But I heard there was a huge fire in Charleston, WV. The Governor's Mansion burned all the way down to the wheels.

About the Police - I admire them greatly. I could not do what they do. How much pay should a man or woman get to put his/her life on the line almost daily, facing down people who are for the most part, not regular folks? There are web sites showing cameras in police cars taking videos of altercations. Some officers are beaten, even killed right there. Scary stuff. Sad stuff. They, too, have families. Were I faced by someone seemingly unbalanced, threatening me with a shovel, and I were armed - and he would not relent - I would probably shoot him in the leg, if not both legs. I'm not chancing dying for someone coming at me when I have done nothing wrong but to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I've got mouths to feed.

6:49 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were I faced by someone seemingly unbalanced, threatening me with a shovel, and I were armed - and he would not relent - I would probably shoot him in the leg, if not both legs. I'm not chancing dying for someone coming at me when I have done nothing wrong but to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I've got mouths to feed.

Not a cop, obviously. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But they should have other options, like the Tasers and sprays too. Even in smaller departments.

7:24 PM, May 18, 2007  
Blogger Cham said...

In my neck of the urban woods, when an office is forced to shoot a perp in self-defense, the nightly news seems to always feature a close-up of a crying mother who will claim the victim was a good boy and never in any trouble. Of course, there are big dollar signs in her eyes as she imagines a lucrative suitcase with comp paid lawyer against the local police department, her bleeding no-good dead drug-addled kid be damned. If I had my way she'd be imprisoned immediately for raising such a loser of a kid.

I always feel for the officer who gets his share of monday morning quarterbacking from the media AND Internal Affairs.

9:17 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, anon, not a cop. I can only speak for me, from a personal point of view. Way too far removed to be able to say what a policeman should or should not do if threatened with that type of situation. They are law enforcers. Technically, one would leave emotion out of it, and do what one is trained to do. I don't have any training in that.

And tasers, etc. are an option when there is a place for that.

Lots of lawsuits over tasers I'm sure. Don't think I'd take pepper spray to a shovel fight, though.

Just wondering, are you a policeman?

Of course, if I had a gun, and he had a shovel, getting rid of the evidence would........never mind.

Although civil this evening, you're still easily identifiable. But I do hope you are well.

10:13 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For if they were treated as a hero, or at least with some respect for doing their job, then maybe, they could resolve the shooting incident a whole lot faster or on their own without professional help."

Perhaps if the cops were to shoot more lawyers (who are, in the end, responsible for most of the litigation and restrictions surrounding this stuff), then everyone would be better off.

(Sorry, Helen, I know yer hubby is a lawyer.)

Kim du Toit

1:15 PM, May 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering, are you a policeman?

Of course, if I had a gun, and he had a shovel, getting rid of the evidence would........never mind.

Although civil this evening, you're still easily identifiable. But I do hope you are well.

Nope. Worked for a police union though. See my 9:25 and 6:15 comments above. Nobody's in hiding here, lol. Easy enough to check ISPs, no? As for the civility comment, that word's too easily defined today, dumbed down if you will, so that it seems to encompass only those comments momma might pat you on the head and give you a cookie for. Thing is, when you start to color outside the lines, holler inside, and disagree in cutting ways, suddenly we jump back in those safe boxes, preferring civility to honest challenge, eh? Ah well, you get what you get. Some like fat and happy, with only short distance eyesight. Some prefer more of a challenge.

My comment wasn't meant to hurt your feelings, just to acknowledge that you were talking with no training or knowledge of how you would have officers respond. Shooting off on emotion only. Looking for a cheap witty line "Wouldn't bring peppah spray to a shovel fight myself." Sounds cute and funny, to some maybe, might even earn you a cookie or two, but the truth is -- if you're good, you rarely have to pull the trigger. Yes, even with a maniacal shovel wielding bad guy. If you're good, and lucky comes often with being good and having many ways out, you don't put yourself and your partner in a position where you could come to serious harm from a shovel blow at close range. No really. Talk to an real life officer, and close the mighty police adventure books for a sec...

11:07 PM, May 20, 2007  
Blogger brent said...

I was a Dallas Police officer for a short time, but during that time, we responded to a man breaking into a house, armed with a large knife, attempting to cut people (he was high). We arrived at the scene, where he was in the front yard yelling and swinging the knife. There were neighbors everywhere, and as he came towards us and them swinging this huge knife, we had only one option: shoot. We held off shooting as long as we could, I remember praying to God that he would just drop the knife like we were telling him to. He didnt, but in the nick of time an officer arrived with a Tazer, and we managed to get him down and disarm him. He died right afterwards, though, even though paramedics were on the scene. His coked-up body couldnt take the additional stress of a Tazer shock.

I thought we had handled this well (although many officers said we endangered ourselves and others by waiting for a Tazer, that we should've shot him to protect bystanders). Imagine my surprise the next morning when I saw the papers, saying that this man wasnt a threat (untrue), that we Tazered him 3 times (untrue), that we was peaceful (VERY UNTRUE), etc. The papers used a picture of him with his baby - the same baby he and his girlfriend left to die in a field, and which was taken away by CPS, although the papers neglected to mention this. The papers also neglected to mention his multiple drug arrests, as well as the fact that he had beaten the hell out of his elderly mom a couple times, and that he had previously fought with the police. None of this mattered to the media: they painted us as responsible for his death, and spread that potrait of us to the whole 2 million+ Dallas/Fort Worth area.

A couple days later, when more facts came out, an editorial was published in support of us. But 1 editorial days later, compared to an onslaught of immediate negative coverage, doesn't do much. Yes, some police officers are wrong, and each case should be looked at on its own terms. But there is no reason why the media needs to jump to conclusions and sensationalize a story, just to sell papers.

12:02 AM, May 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here at the office we have an all-day CNN feed. A bunch of us just finished watching a low-speed car chase from - where else? - California. I think they said West Covina. Is that LAPD jurisdiction?

Anyway, they used a strip to take out one of the guy's front tires, he had six black and whites tailing him, and I don't think he ever went faster than 35. He drove all over the place, then finally stopped in the middle of a street and flopped out onto the pavement. (I think they told him to get on the ground, so he did.)

Various people including the commentator were asking "Why don't they just stop him?" What sprang immediately to my mind was "Well, if they cut him off or PIT him and he gets hurt, you'll say they were too aggressive."

Personally, I think they handled it quite well. The guy blew off a traffic stop - not a major offense. He wasn't driving recklessly at all (he even stopped for traffic lights). They disabled his car and then basically kept an eye on him until he decided to give up. I'm sure they would have escalated if he had been waving a gun and doing 80 through school zones. But under the circumstances, I'd say they used the appropriate degree of force.

I'm sure the newsies would have preferred something a little more exciting, though.

3:11 PM, May 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 11:07

Isn't working for the police union sort of like sleeping at the Holiday Inn Express? Working in the office of the AFL-CIO doesn't mean you can drive a big rig any more than working in the office of the steel worker's union means you can design a world record holding slab caster.

Still reading things that weren't written the way you read them? Or do you purposely twist things in order to stir the pot? You always come across as a definitive expert with contrary view who looks down their nose at various individuals.

The first line you copied (your 11:07 response) was an honest question. I was wondering because of your "authoritative" stance.

The second line was humor, and humor only.

The third was observation, and obviously fact, topped off by a real wish for you to be doing well.
I meant it. But only because you seem like a nut case.

Taking lines out of context can really change their meaning; your objective I'm sure. I honestly do enjoy reading your fun filled posts.

5:36 PM, May 24, 2007  
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