Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Reader responses… The negative

From time to time my inbox gets hit with an email that really lets me have it. Sometimes every bad word in the book is used in order to convey just how wrong we are, how little we know what it’s like "out there", and that we take the side of the bad guys. Some are well thought out with valid concerns and opinions. Those are cherished. Here is a sample of some of the comments I have received recently. Grammar has, for the most part, been corrected.

I could care less what happens to the suspect if they die or get injured so be it who cares it is their own fault. If police are to break off all pursuits because you liberal people believe the crime doesn't warrant a chase, what do you think is going happen? Suspects are going to start to realize that the police are not going to chase them, causing more people to disrespect the law and in fact put more innocent people in harms way...

We are not a bunch of liberals. We have support from citizens and officers representing many political backgrounds. Also, we contest that ‘restrictive’ policies will lead to a criminal free-for-all. We argue that there isn’t a portion of the population on the fence waiting for the department to release their latest policy; rather, people either pull over when asked, or don’t.

How about we try to teach people to stop running from the police that way we don't have any accidents from police chases.....there is a thought.

If this family wouldn't have run from the police then we wouldn't have had this accident now would we???

I agree, but I must ask, how do we do that? So should there be a fourth element to our recommendations? (Honest question, not sarcasm)

1) Proper training
2) Progressive Policy
3) Proper oversight
4) Proper public education?

You guys are stepping away from the problem by criticizing the suspects that "they shouldn't run from the police" but the aim of this site is to focus on safer techniques beyond that point:

Instead it’s people like you that helps make police pursuits more dangerous by focusing on the past then the future. I mean somebody has got to do it. You guys have this mental block that doesn’t let you go "out of the box" on the bad guys shouldn't run quotes I am glad you guys aren't part of my police department with your "trigger happy" attitude.

This one is all over the place, but can be summarized:

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I would like to take a few minutes to comment on some of the ideas I have read on this website. You mention that we as citizens depend on the police to make the decision as to when to pursue or not. Have you ever attempted to make a decision in a matter of seconds concerning a possible life or death situation? It's not as easy as all make it out to be. When the police pursue someone and an accident occurs, it is automatically assumed that the police are at fault. What happens when a police officer activates his blue lights, the violator flees at a high rate of speed, the police officer stops his attempts to take the violator into custody, and a mile down the road the violator hits and kills someone? Is it still the police officers fault that the accident occurred? I think not. However, everyday an agency gets sued for its officers doing just that. It's a catch 22 for police in this country. The public wants the police to protect them and at times give their lives for them. But when something happens that they don't necessarily like the public is the first to point fingers at law enforcement. Consider your wife or child is involved in an incident where a suspect strikes their vehicle and then attempts to leave the scene. Your family member is injured in the collision. There is a witness who calls the police and gives a description of the suspect vehicle. The police get behind it, blue light it, and the vehicle flees. The police cease all law enforcement action and resume normal patrol functions. Later that night your family member dies as a result of the injuries sustained in the hit and run accident. This is a circumstance where the hit and run is a misdemeanor in most states. Therefore, a pursuit is not warranted by most policies. Your family member is dead and there is no one to answer for the crime they committed which caused the death.

In most all instances the hands of the police are tied as to what they can do in given situations. This is no more apparent than in the police pursuit aspect of law enforcement. I do not agree that all violators should be pursued. A minor traffic offense does not add up to the dangers of pursuing a vehicle. However, the person driving the car with the broken taillight that flees might be the person who just killed 10 people at a mall just because he felt like it.

No one knows what the life of a police officer is like unless they have been one. People are quick to place blame on the police rather than the criminals they are chasing.

No, I have never had to make a decision in a matter of seconds concerning a possible life or death situation. You’re right, it isn’t easy. In fact, its difficulty is what justifies a progressive police policy. You are making my argument for me and I sincerely thank you.

You mention the case where a witness gives a description of a vehicle and suspect and the police attempt to pull it over but it flees. The police are restricted from chasing. That does not mean the suspect will get away. Through the description of the witness, the potential to obtain a license plate number, and various other methods, police can still catch the bad guy. In other words, just because the suspect leaves the sight of the pursing officer does not mean the suspect gets away with the crime!

You say the “person driving the car with the broken taillight that flees might be the person who just killed 10 people at a mall just because he felt like it.” I guess that is possible. But if you accept that statement, you must also accept that the person with the broken taillight that flees might be the stupid kid who doesn’t want his parents to be mad because he just got a ticket, right?

Again, you are right that no one knows what the life of a police officer is like unless they have been one. Much the same, no one knows what it is like to have an innocent family member killed as a result of a police pursuit.

Too bad when that same guy kills those two sisters after the police end the chase, everyone is still up in arms because now the police "ENDED IT TOO SOON".

Police can never seem to please the public who can sit back and "Monday morning quarterback" the whole situation. I would like to see the average citizen doing the extraordinary tasks that these officers do, the average citizen couldn't deal with the bloodshed and anguish that police officers deal with on a daily basis. They would go insane.

These officers feel bad enough already with someone telling them they screwed up, because guess what THEY ALREADY KNOW. They were already called into the police chiefs office and scolded, trust me I have been there.

We never doubt the sincerity of police officers unless certain evidence shows otherwise. Officers who are involved in a pursuit in which one of their own or an innocent victim is killed must live with that reality. It can’t be easy. However, just because it is a hard job does not mean we accept the status quo. It does not mean we simply say, well, “It’s part of the job.” It does not mean we don’t investigate, train, critique, and strive for perfection.

What is the job of a Police Officer? Well where to start. The jobs of a police officer is what it should say, considering that the "general public" expects them to be pretty much everything. It's their job to be a counselor, a teacher, a role model for children, a parent to the children that people don’t feel like raising, a preacher, a walking target, a trained fighter, a lawyer and plenty of other things. They have the jobs that no one in the world should have to have. They have the jobs that no one else wants. Chase a drunk driver and if they crash it's the officers fault, however 1800 people a year are killed by drunk drivers that are not being chased by officers. Chase an armed suspect and crash and it's the officers fault, however 10000 people a year are killed by people we are chasing to prevent them from killing again. Let's be realistic. If a police officer dies on duty it's part of the job, if a so called "innocent person" dies while police area chasing the bad guy, it's a tragedy. Police Pursuits are dangerous, and I wish they didn’t have to take place, but letting most people go so they can hurt someone else and get away with it. That's a lot more dangerous. Let me ask the real question, "Just what is the job of a citizen?" Of course I do mean other than to hate the police instead of the bad guys. I hope I answered your question, because it is in my opinion a question that no one in their right mind should ever ask.

This one is one of my favorites. In response to my query into the job of a police officer, this reader began by offering a true answer describing the sacrifices our officers make. Then it gets a bit odd. “Chase a drunk driver and if they crash it's the officers fault, however 1800 people a year are killed by drunk drivers that are not being chased by officers. Chase an armed suspect and crash and it's the officers fault, however 10000 people a year are killed by people we are chasing to prevent them from killing again.” I have no idea where the numbers are coming from, much less what they mean. According to MADD, over 16,000 Americans died in 2004 in alcohol related automobile crashes. Is he saying that of that 16,000, 1,800 were already asked to pull over by L.E. but refused, and later killed someone or themselves? Next, I have no idea what the talk of the 10,000 that are killed that we are trying to chase… Or something like that, means.

The writer continues, wondering why anyone with their right mind should ever ask such a question. Should I not care about the safety of those officers who put their life on the line every day? Should I not ask why Deputies Donta Manuel and Jonathan Wallace had to die? Should we just accept things as they are?

Your right, it's time to do a bit of research. Everyone knows that thousands of police departments and police officers don’t know as much as a guy who went to two low rate schools for a degree in Political Science. Oh yeah wait, every officer already has one of those degrees. Do some research is right, research how many "bad guys" go to jail because of police pursuits vs. how many "good guys" get hurt. Then research how many people the "bad guys" who get caught have hurt and then do the math. You may hurt 2000 people a year in pursuits, but you save about 20000 by getting those "bad guys" off the street. Research how many college students kill people in crashes a year...maybe they just shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Better yet research many training hours police officers have, like you said, then add in the hours a year they work, then add the drive time up and then OT, plus the school time and realize that they put over 3/4 of an average lifetime towards protecting jerks who will devote their lives to criticizing their every move, but will never have the guts to go out on the streets and do what the real "good guys" do.

And last but certainly not least, we have this one. It is in response to a question I asked regarding amount of time spent vehicle training in comparison to firearm training. It was rather rhetorical question considering all departments devote more training to firearms then to driving, but nonetheless. After sifting through the grammatical errors, I paused to take it in.

“Everyone knows that thousands of police departments and police officers don’t know as much as a guy who went to two low rate schools for a degree in Political Science.”


I find it interesting that this gentleman tells me to go do some research all the while throwing out all sorts of numbers with absolutely nothing to back them up. I can do that too. Actually, I’ll create a Mad Lib, and you can just go back and fill in whatever numbers make you happy!

Sure police pursuits hurt ______ people a year but if they don’t chase the bad guys then _____ more people will be brutally murdered! Also, if we don’t pursue everyone then _____ more banks will be robed and _____ more cars will be stolen and the world will dip into chaos and anarchy.

I’ve come to understand that this sort of reaction comes with the territory. I remember an email Jim Phillips received from an angry officer who said that if he was on duty and came across my father and his family in dire need, he would let us die. I imagine it is easy for that officer to say such things while hiding behind a keyboard, anonymous to the world. We, however, are putting our faces out there and attempting to make the streets safe for both citizens and law enforcement.

But a majority of comments are positive and reinforcing. More on those in the days to come.


Anonymous said...

You know, police pursuits are bad. Unfortunately they are necessary. If police actions are to be restricted in a pursuit, then there has to be a flip side of the coin.

As it stands now, DNA evidence and like is only reserved for the most high of felonies. In my opinion running from the police in a vehicle ranks up there with either a 1st Degree Felony or even a Capital Felony. If we are going to hold police agencies accountable for just simply following a suspect with lights and sirens then we need to hold the criminal accountable for running.

How do we do that? By placing them in prison for the remainder of their lives or executing them. If chases are so dangerous and police are disallowed from chasing then we must use DNA evidence, or allow police to shoot at fleeing drivers because of the danger that they pose to society.

Does anyone disagree that fleeing from the police can be and in many situations IS a deadly act?

So we have to pick our poison. Do we severely restrict the ability of the police to pursue and make fleeing a capital crime worthy of all of the "CSI" resources a department has to offer? Or do we continue to allow police to pursue and provide them the best training possible to ensure that they can quickly and effectively end a pursuit?

Until some sort of technology is developed when we can shoot a beam at a vehicle and stop it I think that we are going to have police chases. It is the job of the police to apprehend dangerous felons. If you run from the police in a car, YOU are a dangerous and potentially murderous FELON.

I have heard talk that the police chased a man because of a seatbelt. Well no, that is not exactly true. When the man did not stop he committed a felony so the police were attempting to apprehend a person who was caught red handed in the act of committing a felony.

Personally I prefer that police not chase as much but I think that criminals that run from the police need to be placed in prison or executed so that they can never harm again.

PortRunner said...

Thank God for the second amendment!