Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Denver, Houston, St. Louis, We Have a Problem


When did police start looking like this ?     In April, 2011, at Virginia Commonwealth University ,police used teargas on students at a game.  There were injuries of students who were simply present, by teargas.  Our family no longer attends anything there.


                    It would be unwise and inappropriate for me to comment specifically on the shooting of the eighteen year old man in Ferguson, Missouri.  It's always sad when the police shoot and kill anyone.  The investigation is simply beginning, and believe me, this particular case with its racial overtones will be exhaustively  investigated with a fine tooth comb.  The release of the officer's name prior to the conclusion of such an investigation now makes it unsafe for he and his family to work or live anywhere near that town, whether he acted improperly or not involved in a supposed altercation with a storekeeper during a robbery, I will comment that the release of this officer's name, and the release of the video showing the man who was shot, seem premature to me.   There will also be a federal investigation, and one can bet that the results will be massaged to benefit the present regime and its agenda. Who knows, perhaps they intend to take the firearms of police as well as our own.

                         In a few prior posts I have made the observation that in the US, in my lifetime, we have gone from police officers who predominantly saw themselves as public servants who were primarily focused on the motto, "to protect and to serve", and by golly, this is what they did, to a more militarized unit, with the dress, equipment and more of the procedures of a SWAT team or special forces unit. Dress an officer like an officer and he will conduct himself as one.   Dress him as an elite force soldier and he may well act like one too.  Two counties over from me, our local tactical shop which opened to provide weaponry to be shipped to their son's unit in Iraq,and others like it,  now sells upgraded tactical equipment and weaponry to county police from far and wide.  Apparently, local police are gunning up, and getting better equipment than is provided in their home counties. I don't begrudge a law enforcement officer having the best equipment.  However, we have now crossed over from our being citizens of the United States who pay taxes in order to be protected, to being viewed too many times, as enemy combatants.    Each year, there are cases of people who suffocate when the police sit on their chests or backs during an arrest.  There are people who are shot to death when they didn't have any type of weapon.  There are diabetics who died in a drunk tank when the officers were not trained well enough to realize that they were in trouble with regard to their diabetes.  There are people who are tazered and who die from a resultant disturbance in heart rhythm (arrhythmia).  There have been people who died of internal hemorrhage after several police officers beat them during an arrest, when they were already cuffed and could not protect their abdomens during a beating.
                    I would also like to say that I have many friends who work in different levels of law enforcement.  Some of them are my closest friends, and I know that they would never use force or lethal force unless warranted. Many of them decellerate dangerous situations with great skill.   The two sheriff's deputies who were first on scene when my youngest son died,  took over CPR for me, and performed admirably..  My DEA friends are law abiding decent family people.  There is exceptional police talent out there. There are also excellent police investigators who work tirelessly to solve crimes. We do however, seem to have some problems.

                    Most police officers are intelligent, well trained, calm and reasoned individuals who are very clear on how to decellerate a dangerous situation.  Most of them know how to decellerate a situation using a firearm as a last resort.    However, we do have a number of issues which seem to be creating some problems.    First, the training of police is changing.   The days of their being taught that 90% of people are good and would even aid an officer in trouble, are over.   They are now being taught that ten percent of people are good. Ten percent are very bad, and everyone else could go either way given the circumstances.  Some of them are quite jumpy and a bit paranoid.   Thus far I have not been stopped and treated like a criminal, however several of my friends with concealed weapons permits viewable on an onboard computer check when an officer pulls you over, have been.    My daughter has been pulled over a couple of times and asked questions which seemed inappropriate.   "Where are you going ?" during rush hour seems a little strange when she is dressed for work.   It turned out that someone they were watching had her model of car.
In a county nearer Richmond, where I no longer visit, there is probably a ticket quota.

                    Since President Kennedy's day, a number of mentally ill people were released from mental hospitals, and became homeless. Then, most of the mental hospitals in the US were closed "in order to give opportunities in the community for the mentally ill".   The reality is that if the patient was never taught to rent a room, obtain a job, hold one, manage money, then many of them can't do it, and they remain homeless and often unable to continue whatever medications allowed them to live safely.    A percentage of homeless people are, mentally ill.   When they encounter police they may not understand or respond as quickly to orders as you or I might. They are often extremely tired, as they may not be sleeping regular hours.   Sometimes, when a police officer barks an order, we might question or ask for clarification.  We might want to explain ourselves.  It's very important that police officers have excellent discernment skills.   They need to be able to detect mentally ill, intellectually impaired,demented,  drug impaired or sick people with at least as much skill as I do. Nurses manage this population of patients on first contact all the time, and if we do it without a firearm or tazer, then they certainly can do it skillfully with these items.

             The problem is that not only does our military make gifts of military supplies to police stations when they are finished with them, but police training has changed.  The valued officer used to be the good communicator who inspired compliance by his communication.  He needed to appear human, and most importantly, he needed to see the public as neighbors, friends, cousins, or sons like his.   Now, the training of police is more likely to focus on physicality, basic training, militaristic assessment, detachment, and getting the qwelling of any potential threat completed in record time by taking control with a minimum of communication.
This is a dangerous turn for police training to have taken.  This change in police training  will result in the shootings and death of retarded adults, young adults with mental health issues which make self control difficult, diabetics with transient problems, and even those of us who carry concealed weapons completely legally.     A failure of the member of the public to be instantly compliant does not constitute a threat. It may require additional communication.  A deficit in communication with a police officer should not be a death sentence. Patrolmen also need to have a certain intellectual standard.  Most do, but sometimes, a few men and women get through who do not have the intellectual skills to do the job as safely for the public as they should.   Usually, these officers are weeded out, but there can be a death before this happens.  One young state police officer here in Virginia watched one driver after another drive an icy exit and crash.  It never occurred to her to close the exit. She had simply found a way to write a number of tickets that day, for one thing or another.

           We need to reexamine the manner in which we train police officers.  We need to reexamine police guidelines for when a SWAT team is called.  We need to reexamine police protocols for when and why a simple contact with the police accellerates to a lethal force conflict.  Our police need to know our rights under the Constitution better than anyone, because we are their brothers, sisters, children, wives, cousins, friends, and parents. We can't gloss over the rights of anyone and then expect them to apply to our own families !

           This is not really a racial issue.    African Americans are particularly sensitive to their relationship with police because historically, they have not always been treated well by them.  However, the deterioration of police training and the new value sets of what constitutes a great patrol officer now, threatens everyone.  This is a concern which needs to be addressed.  Without it, a coming police state will make gatherings for our children, schools, motor vehicle accidents, any gatherings of human beings much more dangerous for both police and citizens alike. This is a problem whether you are blonde, Asian, Finnish, Muslim, African American, Chinese, West African, German, or anything else !

          Lastly, police officers need not only to do the right thing, but they need to avoid the appearance or the perception of impropriety.    If a percentage of Americans cease to see them as "here to help" and they are seen as "predators who exist to write tickets" or to "harass the people in our neighborhoods" then we will avoid them, cease to communicate with them, and crimes will simply not be solved.  When the public no longer feels safe providing information to the police, then we have lost our country's ability to solve crime.  This will open the gates for vigilante justice and "justice by perception" which is exactly one of the things the US Constitution was written to avoid.   The police are already suspected of wrongdoing in some cities in our country.   We must examine why some groups of the public fear or suspect the police as quickly as possible.  Without this, we all lose.


My prior post on this and related subject:




Rob said...

Our American police force changed when there was that major shoot out years ago. I don't remember where this took place, L.A. Ca.??? The robbers walked around with body armor on and assault rifles. The cops where out gunned. We also have combat troops returning for the first Gulf War that are trained in combat tactics. They then came home and started looking for work. Many ended up as LEO. Thus the modernization of our police forces with military grade equipment.

We had a police officer killed here in MN about two weeks ago. Every single department sent their SWAT Teams to find the killer who was on the lose. By the looks of it it was a military operation. They did find the guy who had stated before he would kill every cop that got in his way. The officer who stopped the suspect just before he was murdered had no idea that guy was armed.

Tewshooz said...

In my opinion, this is very much planned to deal with the civil unrest that is coming to this country. Since, by law, regular military is not allowed to deal with us, the civilian police is now being set up to do so and become the domestic military. Hope and change

JaneofVirginia said...

On December 31st 2011, Mr, Obama repealed the Posse Commitatus Act, the act which prohibited troops being used on US soil. There is absolutely nothing which prevents the use of American troops in putting down insurrection here at home, other than the idea that their use in this manner would be distasteful to the troops themselves.
. Please see

Thanks for your post.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, Rob these are good points. Thanks for posting. Unfortunately, this has had some very negative fallout here at home where few are as dangerous as those perpetrators in L.A.

lotta joy said...

To everything there can be a "spin" put on it to give the appearance of racism, and this is done at every opportunity. Down here, every time a black is shot, ran over, kidnapped, or beaten, we have to pray it was done by another black. This seems to be okee dokey. But if it is done by a white person, all hell breaks loose.

Ian H said...

Welcome to the first stages of becoming a police state! Police are now recognized as being the guys behind the balaclava and as depersonalized objects. If, in a riot, you are not identifiable, and hence accountable , for your actions, why not use excessive force? Why not beat up on the sheep?

My concerns are that the confrontation tactics will cause the civilian population to escalate their rejection of the so called "Law and Order"

Sunnybrook Farm said...

The country has changed, I view police as some one to be avoided as I have noticed a real attitude with some of them and since I can't tell the good from the bad, I avoid contact with any of them if possible. I would also say that this lack of trust goes for many that I used to have a high regard for.

JaneofVirginia said...

Funny how the president to end all racism started a new era of polarization. I wonder if his legacy will be the perception of more racism.

JaneofVirginia said...

Law and order will fail when the good people no longer accept the authority of their law enforcement. This is already happening.

JaneofVirginia said...

Years ago, if an officer, any officer had asked me if I could allow him to search a car etc., I would have said "Of course" because I have nothing to hide. Now, I would ask, "Do you have a warrant, Sir ?" Even I realize that a few of them are not trustworthy.
Thanks for your post.

Linda said...

I try to be excessively careful after the 5 pm shift comes on. They are hotdogs with a bad reputation for how they treat people. They had my car surrounded by four police cars when I asked to pull to a better lit place one short block away. They were verbally abusive to me, flinging insults and orders. If I complain, it will be worse for me when I drive at night around town. oh, I only had a tail light out, but you would think I had just disemboweled someone with a steak knife..

JaneofVirginia said...

This is more of a problem than I had realized.

kymber said...

Jane - another excellent post and i wish that you were being paranoid, melodramatic, crazy, sensitive and needed more tinfoil. during my career i had the incredible opportunity to work with law enforcement personnel in both canada and the US and only in recent years have i realized that i must have worked with the creme de la creme. i thought, because of my professional interactions that all law enforcement were of the same quality. i told jam and friends to always go to the police if they needed help.

that opinion all changed when i called the police back in ottawa to come to my house as the land next door was being developed and in the process of developing, they were ripping down half of my fence. 2 steroid-taking whack-jobs showed up, said there was nothing that they could do while they watched my fence being torn down and when i say that the biggest guy's front shirt was covered in donut dust, i am not making it up. they wandered around my property - didn't even go to the other side of the fence to talk to anyone over there, came in and out of the house several times, wandering around after i had repeatedly asked them to leave - that's when i called jam and he came screaming home from work!!! these guys just wouldn't leave! finally jam arrived and picked up the phone to call the police to come and get the police!!!! then they finally left!

we have only had one interaction with the police here - a few years ago when jam got sucker-punched - and they seemed very interested and on-point but just maybe a little too eager. for the past several years, as i watch the militarization of police forces in north america, with them getting military equipment and no training - i admit, i am frightened of the police.

that is really saying something.

thanks for another great article! your friend,
(p.s. - i put up a post about my spider bite and linked to your excellent post about benadryl)

JaneofVirginia said...

Kymber, Thank you for your post.
I too am acquainted with some wonderful people in law enforcement, but I am getting a consistent picture and I am seeing some of it in other jurisdictions myself.
I am not frightened of my local police, but I am less comfortable with them in other jurisdictions now, especially as a holder of a concealed weapons permit, and as a person who routinely lawfully carries.

BBC said...

Rick was pulled over recently for a DUI, as he should have been. But what surprised me is that they took his pistol but left the 12 gauge assault shotgun in his trunk. He has a concealed carry permit and the pistol was in his glove box so he wasn't even packing it but the judge said he will have to get an attorney to get it back. I call bullshit on that.

JaneofVirginia said...

I can see why it was secured when he was drunk. I don't know why he can't get it back. Interesting.

BBC said...

I think it is all about helping attorneys make a living, everything in the justest system these days is just a game you know.

JaneofVirginia said...

Sometimes, it certainly seems this way.

sig94 said...

I retired from the my city's PD 14 years ago and am dismayed at the changes in those few years. One of my academy classmates who stuck it out for almost 40 years said the say thing just before he left last year. These new cops are not the breed that I knew and respected. Of course there are many great guys, but far too many see it as some kind of ego trip. We went out on the street as cops, not an invading army. I think the serve and protect mentality is for the most part gone.

I still work in LE with older cops and they see it too; they also are troubled by it. But keep this in mind; cops have to follow orders and the attitude is established by those in command. It comes from the top and if the wrong attitude is present, it's because the commanders want it so. And for all urban LEA's - the chief's serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. If the chief is letting this happen it's because the Mayor allows it. I served under six chiefs of police and believe me, if the Mayor ain't happy the chief is gone. All but one of my mayors was a democrat.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for your input. Many of the LEOs I know say exactly the same as you. Thank you again for your perspective.