The cost of stupidity

One second you’re rolling up on what appears to be a motorist with a car that’s having mechanical trouble, and the next you’re on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds, anchored there by a broken femur and trying to reload your handgun with a broken wrist…because the mag’s worth of knock-it-off you’ve already sent in the bad guy’s direction didn’t penetrate the vehicle he’s hiding in and as far as you know he still has his gun and it’s still got bullets in it.

The general public misunderstands a great deal about the use of lethal force, but I find that one of the hardest aspects to get them to realize is the sheer speed of life and death. When a pre-teen with an airsoft gun was shot by police in Cleveland someone asked me how on earth police could “kill” a “child” two seconds after encountering him. “TWO SECONDS!!!”, she emphasized.

If you watch the video closely you’ll notice that it took about two seconds for approaching a disabled vehicle to turn into a fight for Officer Golsun’s life. Two seconds. Count that to yourself…one, one thousand, two, one thousand…that’s it. That’s all you get to notice that something is happening, recognize what it is, decide on a response, and carry it through.

Of course, many who make such statements are not really interested in learning the dynamics of lethal force situations. They’re unhappy with the outcome and want to find fault with the process that led up to it…and they are usually full of reasons why it should have gone different despite not having many actual facts about what took place or any understanding of what it’s like to actually be in the situation or indeed any situation that’s even remotely similar. If you suggest that perhaps they don’t really understand what they’re talking about, you get accused of blindly supporting some sort of nefarious agenda designed to oppress somebody.

A wounded French police officer a moment before he was executed by Islamic terrorists.
A wounded French police officer a moment before he was executed by Islamic terrorists.

It’s stupid, frankly. Stupidity is, of course, the ultimate luxury. Idiocy is an indulgence available to those who are comfortably insulated from the consequences of their stated preferences and opinions. It’s really easy to think that two seconds is plenty of time to make a life or death decision when you have never had to even ponder the possibility of making such a decision yourself. It’s really easy to scream “HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT!” at people you are pretty sure aren’t going to shoot you.

Look at the picture immediately to the left. The man on the ground is a French police officer with his hands up. A couple of frames later the terrorist put the rifle right at his head and executed him. I can’t see the “HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT!” types trying their chant with the islamists who executed him. Sure, they make a big deal about oppression and how awful our police are but if we’re really honest with ourselves we know that they’re really just doing what they know they can get away with.

Their nonsense has a cost, though. There are a lot of good police officers out there who are noticing that the job increasingly places them in completely no-win situations. Facing the possibility of death or injury from violent thugs on one hand and the ire of an uninformed public whipped into a frenzy by professional agitators on the other, many are asking themselves why they should continue to risk their future and their family’s future on what sure looks like a sucker’s bet.

Of course, some of you may not see a problem with fewer police. It’s not really a numbers thing, though. We will always have police but it’s not a guarantee that we will always have quality people serving as police officers. The people who have good judgment and families and who try to do the right thing are the folks having these thoughts…and they’re the ones we absolutely need in the profession. You have no idea how many real problems and how much bloodshed has been avoided because of the influence of police officers who exhibit good judgement and sound ethics on the street and inside the walls of police headquarters.

A number of folks I know in law enforcement have retired recently, several within the last 12 months. A number of them have fathers and grandfathers who were police officers…but they warn their sons and daughters to go do something else. A number of them are leaving a hole in their organization that nobody is going to really fill and the organization will be poorer for it. So will the public.

We need good people serving as police officers. We’re not going to get them or keep them with the crap we’ve seen lately.

Naturally someone will accuse me of blindly supporting the police, but that’s not the case. I don’t blindly support anyone, especially not agents of the government. There’s a lot to dislike about our criminal justice system as a whole and that includes the way policing happens in America…but it’s also true that at the root of a lot of the stuff that makes headlines is a decent human being trying to deal with a truly awful situation.

Our entire system of government is based on the idea that the people who show up to the polls are reasonable adults. If We The People act like a bunch of spoiled kids it descends into chaos and madness pretty quick. Reasonable adults require facts before making judgements, recognize the difference between good and evil, and are inclined to give good guys the benefit of the doubt. Spoiled kids whip out the pitchforks and torches entirely on the basis of ridiculous allegations by liars and thugs.

This pattern cannot continue consequence free. You can’t keep spitting on the people who keep the barbarians at bay and still enjoy the safety and comfort of a barbarian-free existence. Yes, folks, there are barbarians among us. Ugly, savage brutes for whom unjustified violence is as reflexive as drawing breath. Get pissed off at the description if you want and call me “intolerant” if it makes you feel better, but I’ll remind you I wasn’t the one murdering cartoonists yesterday or gunning down police officers in New York a couple of weeks ago.

There really are good guys and bad guys in this world and increasingly elements of our society are insisting on persecuting the good guys and giving the bad ones the benefit of every doubt. The cost of that stupidity is too high, folks.

Addendum:

I encourage you all to go and watch the video found here where a civil rights activist who protested police actually goes through use of force training:

http://www.fox10phoenix.com/Clip/11014328/activist-critical-of-police-undergoes-use-of-force-scenarios

Note that the civil rights activist who protested the shooting of an “unarmed” man, shot an unarmed man himself. The activist had the luxury of knowing the scenario wasn’t real…but when you are in a force on force evolution it sure as heck feels real. Kudos to him for having an open enough mind to go through such an exercise in the first place. Many wouldn’t dare put their world view to the test like that.

As my friend Todd pointed out in his blog post the world looks mighty different to those who have actually had to simulate solving these kinds of problems.