Lives Matter

Well its happened again, cops are back in the news. In the last ten days two unarmed black men have been shot and killed by white policemen. As is becoming quite common, both incidents were recorded, one by an onlooker using his smart phone and the other by police video cameras. In both cases the officers have been charged. The video of the two shootings offer a chilling look at how the police mishandled the situations. In the oldest incident which occurred April 2nd, a 73 year old, volunteer, reserve policeman shot and killed an African American man who had been wrestled to the ground by other officers following a short foot pursuit. After yelling “Taser, taser” to alert the other officers of his intended action, the volunteer officer mistakenly grabbed his service revolver instead of his Taser and fired a single shot into the suspect. The man died less than an hour later.

time-magazines-new-cover-shows-why-the-latest-police-shooting-of-an-unarmed-black-man-is-differentThe second incident occurred on Saturday April 4th, when a white police officer shot and killed a 50 year old, unarmed black man after pulling him over for a broken taillight. The suspect had been told to stay in his car but fearing arrest for outstanding warrants, he ran. The officer gave chase and after a brief altercation tasered the suspect but failed to bring him down. As the suspect continued to flee the officer pulled his weapon and fired 8 shots at the fleeing suspect striking him in the back. The officer then radioed in and said that he’d been involved in an altercation, shots were fired and that the suspect had taken his taser.

He later told authorities that he shot the man because he feared for his life and that he had administered first aid and CPR to the downed suspect. Of course when the video surfaced it showed otherwise including the officer going back to the site of the original scuffle picking up the taser then going back and dropping it near the suspects body. He has since been arrested and charged with murder. Once again video recordings play a key role in both. From the video it is apparent that the two officers made poor decisions, one appears to be deliberate and the other perhaps accidental. Regardless both resulted in the death of two unarmed men.

The shootings are certainly troubling but the action of the reserve deputy really bothers me as it probably wouldn’t have happened had a seasoned veteran officer been involved rather than a volunteer. Why in the hell was a 73 year old volunteer, reserve deputy allowed to be involved in an ongoing sting operation? Certainly it wasn’t part of the plan for him to play such a huge role in the sting, but as it turned out the suspect ran and ended up being taken down right in front of the reserve officer and in the excitement he shot him instead of using his taser. He made a mistake and now a man is dead.

There are so many variables in a police sting operation, anything can happen. I just can’t understand why this reservist was anywhere near the operation. He was not mentally prepared for it. Most police officers retire in their 50’s or early 60’s, yet here is a 73 year old out there  still playing cops and robbers. Of course in his defense it has been reported that he is an experienced, former full time police officer. Yeah right! He was a policemen from 1964 – 65, one freakin’ year! Please. He’s been a reserve deputy since 2008 and is classified as an “advanced reserve” who can do anything a full-time deputy can do, His current assignment, are you ready for this – the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force! OMG!

I’m sorry but I can’t think of any instance where police volunteers should be armed and on the streets. Their duties and authority should be limited. They should never have the full power and authority as a regular police officer, yet several departments utilize volunteers as regular police officers.If the police force needs more deputies then hire them don’t fill the void with local citizens. Their skills and knowledge could benefit the department in other ways. Volunteers could be doing office or clerical work, community relations, assisting with traffic control, or issuing subpoenas and warrants. All valuable services which could help free up regular officers.

barney-fifeDo you think volunteers, particularly those who donate heavily to the police department, should be allowed to play part-time policeman? I think not. Yet there are more than 400,000 reserve officers in the U.S. Most employed by smaller police departments. They all receive some form of training in civil and criminal law, traffic enforcement, investigations, firearms and defensive tactics. The standard is around 240 hours for a reservist and they are weapons certified yearly.  That’s a far cry from the national average for basic law enforcement training programs nationally which average about 19 weeks. And there is no age requirement  This particular deputy is 73 and an insurance executive for Godsake!  I don’t care how many hours of supervised training these reservist get, they should not be on par with regular police officers. I gotta tell you, images of Barney Fife keep coming to mind. Scary thought.

Just Saying…




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