Law Enforcement Diplomats

Social media is an interesting armchair style warrior. Lots of opinions and sometimes zero experience or knowledge on a subject. The problem is we Cops don’t always know what someone else might have experienced or what their personal Law Enforcement story is. One reader today regarded this page as a “circle jerk LEO” page which made me remember something. Cops aren’t just Cops anymore we are Diplomats and Ambassadors to society. There is a certain responsibilitiy which goes along with the ideal and is inclusive in the duties of a Law Enforcement Officer.

People who are not cops and have never been cops might never fully understand every facet of our calling. Why become angry with those who are under a differing opinion? Obviously it’s ridiculous to think that Law Enforcement Officers are all racially motivated or on the flip side of the coin that we are all “the right hand of the democratic party’s agenda.” Ignorance can be bliss but I would rather enlighten than insult. All may not be enlightened I realize yet in some occasions it is well worth the extra effort which may benefit the Police Reputation.

1I teach my children to ask questions and not simply obey commands given to them by someone claiming to be a leader. I also teach my children to be respectful in the asking of those questions and most importantly to listen to the answer and make their own determination. When people put forth ridiculous ideas regarding cops we should seek to answer those accusations with logic and truth. We can also do it diplomatically if the misguided person isn’t too hostile. We may not reach all using this method but less will also be turned away.

When working the streets I usually allowed the public to ask any question they wanted, so long as it was safe at the time for me to do so. In one particular incident I had made a felony arrest on a subject with a warrant. Several people came out of the buildings nearby and began yelling at me. I feared they would surround me so while I was mentally prepared to kill all of them if needed, I also politely told them to give me a minute and promised to answer their questions.

I put the bad guy in the back seat of my car and secured him safely while asking for a cover unit. The potential mob was still angry but at a safe distance. Once my cover partner arrived I had him keep an eye on my prisoner and I approached the group with a smile. I asked what questions they had and It turned out these people were relatives of the man in my car, or so they claimed to be. It really didn’t matter, at this point I felt a small obligation to attempt an explanation as to why in their eyes “the government was taking away their friend for no reason.”

It was calmly explained I had a warrant for his arrest, explained the booking process and provided information on how they could contact the jail to schedule a 3visit with the subject. I was then asked about the court process, this time they were much less angry in asking the question. I explained the court process and the likelihood the subject would be in jail until his first hearing which would probably occur on the following Tuesday. I was thanked profusely by most of the group and they returned to their homes. One guy even tried to give me a hug and stated: “now that’s respect.”

Later in the day I had a discussion with my partner who told me it was pointless for me to address the small group. I explained I had only done this when it was safe to do so yet he believed I was wasting my time. It was difficult for me at the time to articulate my reasons for doing so but in short I told him this particular neighborhood might be more cooperative with Law Enforcement in the future if we treated them with a little more respect. I tell this story because I believe it is not a waste of time to explain circumstances which the public may not fully understand. Hell, the whole point of writing here is to hopefully enlighten and educate not just to complain. Otherwise our words only serve to rally those who are supportive and turn away those who may be on the fence.

I started a text conversation with one of my favorite and most trusted beat partners regarding this subject and he summed it up quickly and accurately while heading out the door. In a short text message which took him less than a minute to write he hit the nail on the head and went on to prove my point here. Examine the following text message:

“I think we have a responsibility to speak rationally and logically when we speak for the side of law enforcement. It becomes obvious that we are cops in these discussions, so why portray ourselves as irrational asshats. We both know that law enforcement officers in general are not out there hunting minorities and just trying to f with people, but there are people out there who legitimately think otherwise. We have legitimate arguments which carry serious weight. I think we do us and the real issues a huge disservice when we just yell and down talk people. I think some people start seeing the validity of our points when we calmly explain them.”

 

America’s Rosetta Stone


I read through the news today after a recent terrorist attack upon Police Officers in Dallas. Men and women serving their country and communities were attacked because of the clothes they wore and the color of their skin. Alternatively it is reported almost everywhere these attacks were in response to “two innocent black men being gunned down by police” yet the facts are not yet fully known. To respond violently based upon initial emotion is to discredit the American process and disregards civility entirely.

When historians look back upon the last several years what will our defining moments be? I often consider this point of view because as a student of history I realize the human condition is cyclical. Consider our greatest accomplishments and triumphs where Americans had a common goal, pulled together and achieved wondrous results. These American achievements need not be stated they are so powerful.

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I use the Rosetta Stone as my example of ancient human achievement. The rock was found in 1799 by French soldiers and now resides in the British Museum. Written upon the enormous rock is a series of accomplishments and instructions for Egyptian priests. It is written in two languages and three scripts. It is amazing to me how multiple cultures collided in an era of little technology to create something this long lasting. (You can read more about this fascinating topic at: http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/writing/rosetta.html)

What do the words of the Rosetta stone say? What do they mean? We live in a culture now where it doesn’t matter. Facts are considered  boring while violent emotions are considered exciting and relevant. Idols fuel emotionalism as a movement and as role models to America’s youth. A popular musician of our time, Jay Z has released a new song which he addresses the problem. Here is an example of one lyric: “Got my hands in the air in despair/don’t shoot/I just wanna do good.”Young-Thug-JAY-Z

Perhaps the music is moving, maybe the lyrics are meaningful but they are not responsible. The words themselves are perpetuated by lies and drive further emotion instead of logic. That emotion is endorsed by powerful leaders of the state and the message becomes misconstrued. Violence is the result and ignorance is the tool.

Music, Television and Movies are not seen as entertainment in our time, they are words and actions to live by. Fantasy is our hero and I still wonder what America’s common goal is. We are divided on all things in regards to morality and justice and I cannot fathom what stamp of human achievement our generation has left upon history. If our Rosetta Stone is chaos, lawlessness and anarchy I wish to distance myself from it as far as possible.

I have children though, so I cannot wallow in despair and would like to leave them something to cling to. We spend so much time trying to convince the emotionally misguided that our own children often become neglected from the truth. More and more I disconnect myself from popular media, social media and even news networks. I teach my children how to think for themselves and encourage them to try and leave the Sandcastle-2world a better place when they leave it. More than anything I tell them to suppress emotion and use logic to respond. This is how we build a lasting monument to our prosperity as a nation. A nation not divided but as one people and as unified Americans.

A monument to our civilization needs not be represented by division and destruction. Through our common children we must build something greater than we have now. Utilizing morality and logic we must build a culture which welcomes all as Americans and respects the tenements of our rich history. A foundation which shrugs off its mistakes and moves swiftly and accurately to correct them. A foundation which withstands the decaying sands of time and utilizes a profound goal as opposed to destruction with no purpose.

Why The Evidence Is Vitally Important

A buddy just sent me the link to this video.  I had not heard about this incident prior to him sending me the link.  I have no idea if there are any issues (social media uproar or bad shoot complaints) arising from this, but it is an excellent video to look at.

Caution, it is a somewhat graphic video of an officer involved shooting.  It is not bloody or gory, but it does show the shooting.

Two important things we can take away from this, and a third somewhat less important:

  1.  Watching this on my phone vs the computer, it was impossible to see the an object in the guy’s right hand.  It looks like a large knife to me, but I’ve been told it was a hammer.  Even on the computer, it was not clearly visible until half way through the video as he had it concealed under the many layers of clothing/blankets he had draped over himself.
  2. Despite what uneducated anti-gunners and nearly all politicians seems to believe, thanks mainly to Hollywood, shooting someone does not necessarily stop them, especially when using a handgun, and especially not with one round.  This guy takes the first three rounds (unknown how many actually hit him) like a stud and shows no signs of slowing down.  The second volley of three rounds appears to hit his CNS and drops him, stopping him.
  3. For the love of God people, please learn how to hold your phone when recording video!!!  Horizontal, not vertical!  I’m sort of joking, but also also partly serious.  It makes a difference in how large the video plays, which is important when viewing the video for evidence.

This is an excellent video that demonstrates just how vitally important it is to wait and examine the evidence before anyone jumps to conclusions.  It would be very easy for a witness to this situation to say something along the lines of “the cops shot an unarmed guy 6 times for no reason” but when looking at the evidence, that is clearly not the case.  This was a clean shoot.  The suspect is armed with a large knife and he is clearly charging the officer with the gun when he is shot, both times.
-Matt

My Educated Guess Was Wrong – Officer Miller Terminated

A couple days ago, I wrote an article in which I discussed the current state of the investigation taking place in Arlington, TX where a burglary suspect had been shot by the cops.  At the end of that article, I laid out what I clearly stated was my guess as to what might have occurred inside the dealership, out of the view of the surveillance video.

As much as I hate being wrong, I have to admit my educated guess was Entirely Incorrect.  What I surmised might have happened, was far from what actually occurred.

With that said, please take the time to watch this press conference given by Chief Will Johnson of the Arlington Police.  It is long, but it is absolutely worth the 28 minutes.  He discusses all the details that they can release at this point, and surprisingly they released quite a bit of information.  But he goes beyond that and describes how the case is examined on a number of levels, and he describes how both the reasonableness and legality of an officer involved shooting is measured.

For those of you reading this whom are not on the job; for those who enjoy analyzing and scrutinizing the actions of cops from the safety of your couch or desk, please pay special attention to Chief Johnson’s explanation of Graham v Connor (begins at 1:55 mark), which is the supreme court case that establishes the standard by which all deadly force uses by law enforcement are measured.  His explanation is outstanding!

The Facts That Were Revealed
During the press conference, Chief Johnson ran through the series of events.  I am going to summarize them here in bullet points, and am not including everything. Please watch the video for more details.

  • Officers were dispatched to a burglary in progress
  • A total of 6 officers in 5 cars were sent
  • Officers saw a single suspect inside the building
  • One officer verbally engaged suspect through a closed, locked glass door
  • Same officer noted a large bulge in the suspect’s pants pocket (others also saw it as noted later)
  • The suspect showed the initial contact officer keys to a car and said he was going to steal it
  • The officer ordered the suspect to get on the ground, but the suspect refused to comply
  • Corporal Wiggins (training officer) and Officer Miller (trainee) began to pass the officer who was speaking to the suspect
  • Wiggins stopped to talk to officer who was engaging the suspect, but Miller continued to the open/broken doors
  • Miller entered the building by himself, with his gun drawn
  • Miller verbally engaged the suspect who fled to the rear of business and tried to break through a glass door
  • Miller, still solo, chased the suspect to the back and verbally engaged him again
  • Suspect again refused to comply and began to charge Miller
  • Wiggins entered the building attempted to catch up to his trainee
  • Wiggins got to within approximately 4′ of Miller and Wiggins drew his Taser
  • As the suspect charged Miller, Miller fired one shot but the suspect continued advancing
  • Wiggins fired his Taser but the suspect continued advancing
  • Miller firesd three more shots
  • Shots fired broadcast on radio, emergency medical requested
  • At no point did the suspect physically engage any of the officers

Investigation Results Thus Far
Chief Johnson was clear to point out at the onset of his press conference that there are two investigations that are going on simultaneously in any officer involved shooting.  There is an administrative investigation and a criminal investigation.  This is true no matter the jurisdiction, and the results of the two investigations are independent of one another.

  • Administrative Investigation – Officer Miller screwed up, badly, a number of times.  His screw ups ultimately lead to the confrontation that occurred.  His mistakes were both officer safety in nature as well as tactical errors.  Not only did his mistakes put both he and the suspect in danger, but they put all the other officers in danger too.  Officer Miller has been fired (released from his probationary employment) as a result of those grievous errors.
  • Criminal Investigation – Still proceeding.  Results will be given to the District Attorney and will then be presented to the Grand Jury to determine if charges will be filed.  If I were a betting man, based on the facts that were revealed in this press conference, I would put money that this case will be going to trial.

Stupid Media Questions, and Outright Bias
As is the case at nearly every law enforcement press conference for a high profile incident, especially those involving officers using deadly force, there were a number of stupid questions.  However, beyond that, there was a couple that really display a bias by the media.  I’m going to summarize a few of those below (not verbatim, unless in quotes).

  •  21:38 mark –  Did the first shot fired strike the suspect?
    • How on earth would we know that?  Bullets aren’t numbered.  We have no way of identifying which slug was from which casing and in what order they were fired.
  • 24:28 mark – Did Officer Miller explain why he continued to shoot after the Taser was deployed?
    • Chief Johnson handled this much better than I would have.  Does this guy think that this was some long, drawn out thing?  From the first shot until the last shot was only seconds.
  • 23:52 mark – Did Corporal Wiggins ever try to question Officer Miller, or intervene and ask him what he was doing?
    • OMG, seriously?  Is this person for realsies?
    • Let me see, my trainee has disappeared on me, where did he go?  Holy crap!  There he is, he went inside by himself and is engaging the suspect.  (runs to catch up) Trainee has suspect, who is now charging him, at gunpoint and suspect if failing to follow all verbal commands.  This is where we call “TIME OUT” – okay trainee, why are you doing what you are doing?
    • The utter lack of a grasp on reality displayed by some reporters is sometimes quite amazing
  • 24:21 mark – BIAS ALERT – Do you think the outcome of this investigation would have have been different two years ago?
    • In other words, did this outcome only happen because of all the scrutiny law enforcement is under right now?
    • Chief:  “No sir, I do not”
    • Let us just say even if he did, which none of us who know what really happens in these investigations would ever think, but even if he did think that, does this reporter think he would say it would have been different?  This is a BS, gotcha question asked so that they can say the “Chief denies investigation would have had different outcome without public outcry.”
  • 25:30 mark – BIAS ALERT – Does Corporal Wiggins face and punishment for “allowing” his trainee to be separated from him?
    • Chief: “Absolutely not”
    • Follow up question: “Why did he allow him to go in there by himself?”
    • When I heard this question, I actually yelled at my computer screen.  What an arrogant ass. The Chief explains it politely, I won’t.

Because, mister “reporter,” here on planet earth, grown adults have not only free will, but we also have limited abilities.  As a training officer at an in progress crime scene, like this was, he is not only trying to do his job as a training officer, but he is also doing his job as a cop, which involves not only trying to keep track of the suspect and his trainee, but also all the other officers at the scene.  Additionally, as a mere mortal human being, I highly suspect he was unable to freaking read the mind of his trainee and know what the trainee was planning on doing…

He and his trainee were supposed to be moving to the open area to establish a perimeter position, in order to contain the suspect.  When he stopped to talk  with the other officer (I can only presume to discuss their plan of action) , the trainee continued.  The trainee upon reaching their perimeter position, screwed up and took it upon himself to enter the building, solo, which goes against all officer safety and tactical training he would have received to that point.  Apparently, the training officer’s superpowers were not working, and his assuming the trainee, who was nearing the end of his field training, would have followed basic protocols is the same thing as “allowing” him to do something.

Training officers and trainees are all only human.  Sometimes humans make mistakes.  This question, in the way it is worded, blatantly tries to assign blame on the training officer, and thus the department.  This “reporter” should be forced to attend force on force and shoot/no-shoot training before being allowed to attend another law enforcement press conference.

  • 27:11 mark – Have you spoke to the former officer in person, and how was that interaction?
    • Chief Johnson: “Difficult”
    • Followed by a long pause, after which he goes into a little more depth after politely shushing a reporter who was trying to interrupt.

Summary
Based on all the facts known at this point, this appears to be a bad shoot.  The officer involved has had his probationary employment terminated.  The criminal investigation is still ongoing.  Once that criminal investigation is complete, the case will be given to the District Attorney who will present it to the Grand Jury.  They will determine whether or not the case goes to criminal trial.  As I said already, I suspect it will.

Thus far, everything about this investigation is functioning Exactly As It Should, and just like it does in every case, with or without the media breathing down law enforcement’s neck.

It really sucks that this young man was killed, just as it would have sucked even if it were a justifiable shooting.  I wish the death of a child upon no parent.  No parent should have to outlive their child.

But, while the shooting is horribly regrettable, one must not dismiss the suspect’s role in his own demise.

Two people made very bad mistakes that early morning.  One of those people who made mistakes instigated the entire event, and made it worse by making yet more mistakes along the way.  The other person was a man working a very tough job, trying to make his community a safer place, who was put on the spot and forced to make a split second decision, and he made several mistakes as well.

The question that now remains is, did that second man’s mistakes rise to the level of a criminal offense?  I suspect we will have to wait to see what a jury says about that.

As for how the Arlington, TX Police Department is handling this investigation, I have nothing but respect for them.  They are quickly handling a very difficult investigation under the public microscope.  Additionally, the sincerity and emotion in both Chief Johnson’s words and body language in this press conference tell it all.  This is a man who not only cares about his department and the employees, but also cares about his community.  He appears to me to be a man of honor and integrity.  Chief Johnson appears to be a man I would be proud to work for.