Any Cop will tell you, its usually the routine trafic stops that turn nasty quick. From disgruntled socer moms angry that the police are making them even more late for whatever pressing engagement, to the drunk that is just plain pissed off and doesn't want to go to jail, a routine traffic stop can be anything from just that: routine, to out and out deadly.
Today in Oakland 4 police learned how deadly it can get. One man, an ex-con wanted for parole violation in regards to a Assault with a Deadly weapon charge was stopped by to bike cops. He then opened fire killing one and wounding the other. Immediately after that Police went on a manhunt for the man and in the process two SWAT members were killed in the attempt to arrest him. The suspect died of a fatal dose of hot lead. In all four officers were injured three died and one may not live very long.
Now some important parts to take from this story first, the two motorcycle cops were probably wounded by a pistol, second it is quite clear that the SWAT team was dealing with nothing less than an assault weapon. I'd be willing to bet it's our old friend the Kalashnikov, which is powerful enough to take down a lot of things at close range. Even if SWAT had the same body armor I wore, and even if the suspect were going to "spray and pray" chances are that he probably got the three wounded SWAT officers at the door to whatever room he was holed up in. That's the pure tactical situation as I read it.
But I have to say this. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED! Doesn't matter which part, this whole thing can be broken down into a few parts.
1). the suspect didn't want to follow the rules and though he was above the law. He did things that society does not tollerate, and didn't want to pay the price for his actions. Worse, when given a second chance, his parole, he couldn't follow simple instructions, which, while a hastle would have prevented a need to run.
2). the suspect should never have been released if he were that much of a threat. "Good behavior" doesn't mean you don't just get into fights, it means you attempt to change your life. California has a soft spot for criminals and it cost four policemen their lives
3). while hardly mentioned in the article I read on Fox News (you can bet CNN or MSNBC didn't run it) the idea of 20 or so onlookers sticking around and jeering the police as they struck a manhunt for an obviously dangerous criminal is disconcerting. Even more disconcerting is the idea that some of these people were probably in some small way happy to see the cops injured. For every mistake the Police make there is a bunch of media attention, and with an ROE that's more confusing then the new Stimulus Package, its really no wonder that cops will draw a bead on "unarmed" kids. the simple fact is that it's dangerous to be a cop, and sometimes if the "innocent" harass the cop enough that he feels a threat to his life, or to the lives of others, is he not then justified in his or her actions. What bothers me the most about the "Police Brutality" issue is that its almost always blacks that are the focus and the "innocent victims" but we never see or hear what happens before the cameras start rolling. Even worse, because the suspects are almost always black and the cops are almost always white, it almost ALWAYS gets turned into a racial issue.
4). Obviously if I read the tactical situation right, then why weren't other urban pascification methods afailable? Flashbangs, and the like. hell they used Tear gas for the Embassy crissis durring the Tet offensive. If this target truly was a threat then why weren't other measures used to avoid choke points and prevent him from being able to think see or shoot clearly being utalized. It's not like we don't have the means.
5). Finally, while I don't know the situation, we need a quicker way to acess threats. Are they or aren't they threats? Before they even walk up to a vehicle they need to know who it's registered to and if any of the first tier (ie: Mother brother sister father etc) ascociations with the regristry are known/suspected offenders. Before the cops even get out of their car, before the walk even begins there should be a way to tag, querry and ascertain this information so the Police officer knows whether to go "hot" or "cold". I honestly think that if the public has a "right to know" how a soldier died a gruesome death and gleefully put that all over the news for the family to see, then a police officer has the "right to know" if someone in the car might be a bad guy!
I am sad to say but I feel a certain despair at the certainty that someone in the respectable news organizations will try to paint the dead shooter as the "victim" in all of this. I don't care how you spin it four people who were good are now dead for one low life sleeze ball. I count that as a loss any day. I fear matters will only get worse.
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