Commentary: Killing Cops, Part Two
Are we approaching a day without police? There were no cops on the streets when America was founded. Constables, concerned citizens and Sheriffs kept the peace. As cities grew larger the need for dedicated firefighters sprouted and eventually the companies were divided into specialties. Some battled flames and others battled crime. Probably not since Frank Serpico sat before a microphone have police in the United States been under such intense scrutiny. If John McCain currently was serving his second term as U.S. President one wonders would there be any serious controversy today surrounding policing? In a post yesterday I suggested the actual cops on the street are likely much cleaner than 50 years ago and beyond. In the same post I also challenged media for creating a narrative of bad cops that is leading to increased violence against the men and women in uniform. The media narrative began in Ferguson, Missouri and was based on false allegations against an officer. Once the reporting industry got itself so far down the hole it decided it couldn’t reverse.
This morning I came across an opinion piece in the Washington Post from a leftist writer named Radley Balko. First, he was in the back of the line when names were being handed out and number two, with his name I’m expecting he’ll portray the next Star Trek villain. Balko doesn’t like police and suggests he and his fellow lords of the press have the cops cornered. You can see his argument right here.
At one point the Klingon warrior cites the psychology of police officers as a critical component of violence. Balko quotes another fellow traveler named Seth Stoughton:
Hesitation can be fatal. So officers are trained to shoot before a threat is fully realized, to not wait until the last minute because the last minute may be too late.
But what about the consequences of a mistake? After all, that dark object in the suspect’s hands could be a wallet, not a gun. The occasional training scenario may even make that point. But officers are taught that the risks of mistake are less—far less—than the risks of hesitation. A common phrase among cops pretty much sums it up: “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.”
A couple of thoughts immediately popped into my mind. The line better to be tried by twelve than carried by six isn’t limited to police officers. It’s often been used by armed homeowners in states where no castle doctrine exists. In my former home state of Delaware the public was instructed to “run-away” if attacked in a home. Your own home and you’re supposed to dash out into the darkness and no matter what are the weather conditions. I’d rather gun down the invaders and stay warm inside. The other thought from the Stoughton drivel is that it never mentions race as justification for police shooting, leaving out the cornerstone of the media claim. Instead it’s about survival. Lefty apparently believes becoming a law enforcer requires you to take bullets. When I was in the 7th grade some of our teachers and chaperones escorted us on a tour of the New York State Police Academy. A young trooper had been shot and killed 15 miles from my hometown a year before the tour. He had just stepped from his cruiser and hadn’t even closed the door when he was gunned down while responding to a domestic dispute. A chaperone asked our guide why troopers weren’t instructed to wound instead of shooting for the noggin’ and a likely kill. “Ray Dodge was a friend of mine,” the guide replied. “Too many of our troopers have been killed by wounded people returning fire!” Dodge was the dead trooper. Today he would’ve been in his early 60s and bouncing grandchildren on a knee. He never even had a chance to retrieve his sidearm the day he gave his life.
I’ve met some reporters who’ve told me they’re willing to give up their lives in pursuit of a story. An old boss worked for CBS News in the 1960s and once explained to me when he was hired he was told he should be willing to die for CBS. Delusions of grandeur, my friends! Delusions of grandeur. Just because you’re a self-important and suicidal jackass doesn’t mean everyone else is cavalier about their own lives. Putting on a badge doesn’t mean you wish to be a target. As the media salivates over a crisis of its own creation I’m reminded of something my old man taught me. Some people never have any issues with the law and others get frequent rides in the backseat. Is it a personality issue? I don’t know but I don’t think reporters do much driving on their own.