Friends of Police Object to Article on Shootings by Police


To my dismay, not everyone agreed with yesterday’s article in the Washington Times.  The Times printed a letter today by a policeman who believed that lawmen deserve special privileges after they shoot citizens:

I was really disappointed after reading “Let’s start by controlling police gun violence” by Jim Bovard (Commentary, Monday). Apparently Mr. Bovard’s qualifications for analyzing gun violence and, specifically, police use of weapons, is that he has written a book. I feel comfortable declaring myself an expert in this area, having served 20 years as a police officer and police official supervising others.

Mr. Bovard makes a big deal out of the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. He should be aware that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution also applies to police officers. They, too, could refuse to answer any questions they think could be used against them. The desire to have complete information on police shootings is important for many reasons, not the least of which is training. Therefore, allowing an officer the opportunity to cool down after an intensely emotional and traumatic incident and to speak to someone (whether an attorney or union representative) goes a long way in inducing the officer to participate in follow-up investigations. The officer always must consider whether he will be the victim of a politically motivated investigation or efforts to pacify one group or another at his expense.

Mr. Bovard’s statement that “[t]here were hundreds, if not thousands of people shot unjustifiably in those decades” is evidence of not only ignorance, it indicates a bias and irresponsibility on Mr. Bovard’s part.

Finally, I would like Mr. Bovard to know that although I cannot speak for (or against) every law-enforcement agency in the country, the department I worked for required reporting on every use of force, whether by gun, nightstick, Mace or any other weapon.

The use of force, especially deadly force, is an intensely subjective and situational decision by an officer who knows his decisions will be scrutinized by others later. I know officers can and do make mistakes, but mistakes in judgment do not inherently carry with them “intent to commit a crime.” Yet in the case of law enforcement officers, mistakes are often misperceived and end up being prosecuted. A Police Officers’ Bill of Rights seems totally appropriate.

ROBERT A. POGGI  Alexandria

There are about 30 comments so far on the Times’ page for yesterday’s piece.

Barry Soetoro groused: “The chance of you getting murdered by a police officer is probably less than that of you being killed by a lawn dart in the middle of winter. We should focus on enforcing laws first before dreaming up fantasies.”

Actually, if more than a thousand people a year were dying while playing lawn darts, then the Consumer Product Safety Commission would definitely be guilty of negligence.

Chad Casale took great offense at the legal terminology:

I take offense that the word “homicide” was used to describe police shootings. The police officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty to protect himself or to protect others. He/She didn’t just pull their gun out and randomly shoot people for the fun of it. I know of no officer, that has had to shoot and kill a suspect, that is not haunted by incident. Lest you forget that police officers are human beings. I know of no officers that wake up and say I’m gonna shoot someone today. That is just ridiculous non sense spewed by those that have no clue what it is to place their lives on the line for others. As I said the officers are human and imperfect and yes they do sometimes do bad things to themselves, family members or others but I believe this is off duty and non public threatening.

Mr. Casale did not offer a substitute label to describe police shootings, but perhaps “mercy killings in the public interest” would suffice.

Several commentors dissented from Mr. Casale’s view, so he clarified on how boundless obedience is the path to safety:

I have had numerous interactions with law enforcement and have never ever had a single incident of them being rude or aggressive. I know why I never have a problem because I listen to and comply with what the officer tells me to do. I don’t talk back..I don’t try to hide my drugs under my seat, I don’t try to shove my illegal handgun under the seat. I put my hand on the steering wheel and wait till the officer approaches to make any moves and then only after telling the officer what I’m doing and then doing it. And 9/10 times I’m cut loose with a warning. Why? Because I show RESPECT. The majority of problems occur when idiots with attitudes don’t comply or suspects run or they try to kill the officer 10 minutes earlier when cameras weren’t around.

There were some zippety comments –

Luger Drmc declared: “We have a gang in blue that can’t shoot straight, yet some want these doofuses to be armed in schools where 19/20 shots may hit innocents instead of someone with a PopTart that has been 1/2 eaten into the ‘shape of a gun‘.”

Matt Bracken observed:  “Comrade Bovard, you are indicating a dangerous anti-social attitude. In our new USSA, all ordinary comrades support glorious security officials without question!”

SmittyOhio offered some standards to assess lawmen:  “Odd that those tasked with holding us accountable to law are themselves seemingly exempt from being held to account.  Here are some questions for police officers that would shed some light on whether they are ‘law enforcement’ officers or ‘peace’ officers…
    Please list some orders or commands your conscience or belief system would prevent you from carrying out.
    Please list any current laws your conscience or belief system would prevent you from enforcing (or placing at the bottom of the priority list).
    Please list any currently proposed laws your conscience or belief system would prevent you from enforcing.
    On a local forum I attempted to ask a ‘law enforcement’ officer those questions. I’m still waiting for a response, though I’m not holding my breath…



4 Responses to Friends of Police Object to Article on Shootings by Police

  1. Brian Wilson March 5, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    “I know officers can and do make mistakes, but mistakes in judgment do not inherently carry with them “intent to commit a crime.”

    Totally reassuring,Barnie, but your “mistake in judgement” has been given the eternal dirt nap. Does your PBOR read “You have the right to remains dead”? Or does that part just read: “Ooops!”

    • Pete March 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

      I take umbrage at the idea that government employees who commit crimes are allowed to get away with, “oops, it was an accident.” I’ve been convicted of a couple misdemeanors that I never had any “intention” of committing. Was I given a moment’s reprive that I might have made an accident? Absolutely not. The sole purpose of the Constitution and Bill of Rights is to protect us from government force. However, the trouble with law and legality is, depsite such obvious restrictions on their own behvior, laws are ultimately interpreted through the “opinions” of government bureacrats.

      Who watches the watchers? Who judges judges? Who polices police? In a land whose government is bound by erring on the side of freedom, this police state is prima facia evidence to the tyrannical contrany. It is now that we should rise up and remind government employees who they work for.

      And if they give you the tired line of, “I pay my taxes, too,” remind them that their entire paycheck is leeched from taxes. I didn’t sign up for cops with MRAPs. I do not consent. I object. This government is out of order.

  2. Tom Blanton March 5, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Having had many encounters with cops in life, I would estimate that at least 50% of these encounters were extremely unpleasant. From rudeness to having guns pointed at me, and from warrantless searches to actual violence resulting in bruised ribs and lacerations, cops have been abusive to me since I was in elementary school.

    I’ve never called the cops and probably never will. I avoid them whenever possible by crossing the street, not leaving a building until they are gone, or by turning off and detouring in my car.

    Thanks to the internet and cell phone video technology, the white suburbanites are just now realizing what non-whites and urban dwellers have known for many years – that cops are often abusive and can’t be trusted.

    Nearly everday there are 8-10 “anecdotal” occurrences or “isolated” instances of police misconduct reported here:

    The misconduct ranges – DUIs, rape, murder, assault, robbery, theft, fraud, child molestation, child porn, drug dealing, perjury – on duty and off duty, day in and day out.

    Obviously, politicians applaud the police state. They fund it, militarize it, and provide it with the latest technology to inflict pain or facilitate surveillance. It is time for ordinary people to ostracize police officers and any government enforcers on a very personal level.

    The “few bad apples” narrative falls flat when the “good” police turn their backs and keep quiet about the others. Their silence is complicity. Cops view citizens as the enemy. It’s time to act as if they are your enemy.

    A nation that has the highest incarceration rate in the world cannot be the world’s beacon of freedom as they tell us. The cop’s excuse that they only enforce the law is starting to sound an awful lot like the Nuremberg Defense.

    OK, it’s time for my blood pressure medicine and maybe some other medication.

  3. Jim Bovard March 6, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    I hope the other medication worked.

    Thanks for passing along your experience. It’s folks like you that help wake folks up to some of the perils they face in everyday life…