In recent discussions here on police use of force, it has been suggested that since cops know they’re doing a risky job, they should wait longer than a civilian might before using force to defend themselves or effect an arrest.  After all, don’t they have more equipment and training? And didn’t they “assume the risk”?

Um…no.  Here’s why.

First, we all remember Spiderman’s Uncle Ben wisely advising him, “With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s true as far as it goes, but it only goes halfway. As I’ve taught my students for decades, police and civilian alike, power and responsibility must always be kept in a dead-equal balance.

Power without responsibility tends to lead to tyranny.  But responsibility without the power to fulfill it is the very definition of futility.

One commentator here longed for the days when police were “peace officers” instead of “law enforcement officers.”  News flash: Police have always been both. The purpose of law enforcement is keeping the peace, and the peace cannot be kept against violent criminals without the power to enforce the law.

Historically, society has given the cop and the private citizen different standards of justifiable use of force:  “Equal Force” for the so-called “civilian,” and “Necessary Force” for the cop.  Picture Lady Justice holding her scales, with power on one side and responsibility on the other.

It’s “equal force” for the private citizen because their responsibility is only to stop the attack and prevent harm: if, for instance, the suspect flees, they have no duty to capture him and their right to harm him ended when he broke off his assault.  But it’s “necessary force” for the police officer, because his or her duty is not merely to make the “bad guy” stop threatening them anymore: their sworn duty is to pursue, overpower, capture and disarm and restrain him, and transport him to jail.

All of which, the first time you try to do it to a criminal who doesn’t want it done, turns out to be a helluva lot more difficult than simply dissuading him from screwing with you anymore. It is why, for example, in a fistfight with a man his own size the cop is allowed to strike him with a baton and a citizen who did the same would likely be charged with aggravated assault.

We all wince when the cop has to injure or kill a drunk, a mental patient, or someone drugged out of their mind. How the Hell do you think the cop himself feels about that?

But the cop has no way of knowing what has motivated his opponent’s violent behavior, and if he did, it wouldn’t matter. It can’t matter. His duty is to restrain the violent person to protect the public, no matter what triggered that behavior.

Cops should take more risk? They did that already when they became the person others would call to stop violent criminals. Their exposure rate is already vastly higher.

Every cop understands that risk is part of “The Job.”  The public they serve needs to recognize that sacrificing life and limb on the altar of Utopian political correctness is not in the contract.

54 COMMENTS

  1. Do you really mean that if someone wants to fistfight me and I object I can’t even use a baton to tell him no? (Assuming the baton is legal where I am, and I didn’t go get it before starting trouble) The way I’ve understood the difference in what’s allowed me vs what’s allowed a cop isn’t the weapons, it is goals–I’m only allowed to use weapons to prevent or reduce immediate harm, while a cop can also use force to detain and arrest.

  2. Sevesteen, if you have a weapon and the other man does not — and he does not have some significant advantage over you physically such as greater size and strength — your use of the weapon is highly questionable. Moreover, in many jurisdictions a baton is seen as “a deadly weapon, to wit a bludgeon” and the right to carry it in public may not be encompassed by your permit to carry a gun.

    Seems unfair to the innocent party, but I don’t write about how I think things should be, I write about how things are.

  3. @ Sevesteen:

    Mas is right. The laws on what one can carry and use varies greatly from State to State. Logical consistency, therefore, goes out the window.

    Take my home State of Tennessee for example. My carry permit is specifically a “Handgun” carry permit. It is not, as in some other States, a “Weapon” carry permit. So, handguns are OK (with the permit in my pocket) but other types of weapons such as batons or “knuckles” are still strictly forbidden. So is carrying a knife with a blade length greater than 4 inches.

    Tennessee is an open carry State. Therefore, with my handgun permit, I can strap on my 1911 in .45 ACP and walk down the street with no problems (legally anyway). However, if I also have a folding knife in my pocket with a 4 1/2 inch blade, then I’m breaking the law!

    I can’t carry a baton specifically designed as a weapon but I can carry a heavy flashlight that would do even more damage if it was used as a weapon. That is because, under Tennessee’s law, a flashlight is just a flashlight!

    Prohibition laws are really logical and great, don’t you think? 🙂

    The point is that one really needs to know the law for their home State and, when it comes down to it, in any State in which they travel.

  4. It is sad is that folks who know and understand the principles you state are unlikely to be selected for a self-defense jury because “they know too much”. While those whose “knowledge” is from dime novels, Hollywood and television will most likely be selected for that jury. This is why an attorney and expert witnesses who do understand this are of paramount importance to a good defense. Right up there, of course, is that your actions were justifiable.

  5. Hey Mas,
    Well said! Just chiming in to thank you for these articles. Many of us read these and you may never know! I wish you and the EP well. Hope to see you guys on the range soon!! Best regards!!

  6. During the run-up to Vietnam, I was a Marine Corps officer on officer selection duty (recruiting) at colleges throughout the south and southwest. Wearing dress blues on campus put a target on my back for every wacko’ who wanted to show how studly he was. Policemen live with that everyday and it’s much worse than any taunting I ever took. It has to be very hard to live with n I respect them for hanging in there.

  7. Idk, in the paper today is an account of an officer who killed a deaf citizen who apparently did not follow orders, all the while, bystanders were screaming “he’s deaf”. Eyewitness accounts but these incidents don’t bolster citizen confidence in LEO.

  8. Goodn stuff, Mas. You have a great skill at slicing and dicing the finer points of differing situations and separating fact from fiction, should/oughtta be and really is under the sometimes stinky laws we’ve got.

    You cut to the root of this Campbell situation very quickly and clearly, and your explaination helps understand it. Yes, I cannot imagine standing there, drawing down on another human for nine minutes and keeping my cool as the jerk taunts and teases and attempts to make me so mad I would pull that trigger just to put a cork in his miserable cake hole. This officer should be commended widely.

    Curious, though.. DID the guy have anything dangerous under there, or illegal? Not that it changes anything as far as justifying the officer’s actions……. just like buying some item… we never buy what we buy, we always buy what we THINK we’re buying. The cop never knows what he’s about to get…. good job he’s allowed to THINK what he might be getting and be prepared for it. “A wise man sees trouble and flees from it”. Holding the gun on that guy may well have caused that trouble to flee…….

  9. I’d like to see America get tougher on criminals. I think police brutality is a good thing, as long as the criminals deserve it. The death penalty needs to be used a lot more. When demonstrators turn violent, breaking store windows, police should then break their bones.

    What a great country for criminals! Lots of freedom. Lots of rights. Court appointed lawyers. Lots of appeals. Prisons where life is better than living free in the Third World. Lots of chances to rehabilitate yourself. Free healthcare in prison, free food, and you don’t have to work or pay bills. Conjugal visits.

    Weeds grow very well on their own. In America, it’s as if farmers are doing everything they can to help the weeds grow. The good plants are having a hard time surviving.

    Am I willing to tolerate innocent people getting the death penalty once in a while? Yes. I’m willing to tolerate a 5% rate of mis-application of the death penalty. With modern technology, I believe the rate of mistakes could be closer to 1%. If I was a judge, and had doubt about a convict’s guilt, I would simply keep him in prison until more evidence for his guilt or innocence is found. I don’t want to see innocent people put to death, but lethal injection is a painless, peaceful death. Not a bad way to go.

    I guess I don’t belong in modern America. It’s time to get Old Testament on criminals. NO MORE MISTER NICE GUY!!! Yeah, Yeah, I know, the pendulum always swings too far in either direction. We are now in a very free, soft time. When our freedoms get abused to the point of chaos the pendulum will swing and society will be less tolerant than it is now. Maybe Sharia Law will be seen as the cure for Hippie Law. Maybe not.

    Now if a cop violates an innocent person’s rights, and is just being a bully, of course the law should deal harshly with that cop as well. I want balance, equal treatment under the law, justice. I realize that one reason things are so lax is because we are afraid to give the government too much power. That is understandable.

  10. “Utopian political correctness” I’ve been looking for a description of what half this country is engaged in, and believe that one fits. Might use it myself if you don’t mind, Mas.
    I think about those men and women who walk up to a vehicle they’ve just stopped at 2:00 am on some lonely road. And who’d be willing to take their place.
    Obviously, many in this country don’t have a clue about LEOs and what they do, or what they represent. These ‘utopians’ remind me of folks who take a knee while the national anthem is playing, or attack statues.

  11. Everything Mas said is true.. but….

    We do have some grey areas. One is called ‘Citizens Arrest’. Yes, playing layman cops.

    At least here in Texas if one sees a FELONY ‘in progress’ they can affect an arrest and use force (or an offense against the ‘public peace’ to.) It’s kind of grey cause one has to know what is a felony or for that matter ‘public peace’!

    Did you guys notice I said ‘force’ but not ‘deadly force’? hint hint. Do a bit of research as to what is force in Texas*.

    Some assaults are not felonies and some thefts are misdemeanors but others are felonies! I don’t carry the Texas penal code around me each day and that’s the problem.

    Obviously an armed robbery happening right in front of you is a go, and pushing and shoving a no-go. Seeing someone else being beaten might or might not be even a felony. And yes, if you are mistaken it is what is called ‘false arrest’. Ops.

    In short, it gets kind of complicated and in the spur of the moment one does not need complicated stuff to do or think about.

    *Just cause it’s ok in Texas don’t mean squat in any other state.

  12. Paul,

    ”It’s kind of grey cause one has to know what is a felony or for that matter ‘public peace’!

    In Texas, just about anything a police officer can make an arrest for, so can a private citizen. Your wondering about the definition of “Public Peace” really has a simple answer. Every criminal complaint filed in a court of law in Texas contains the words “against the peace and dignity of the State of Texas”. This is true of any court filing from a simple traffic ticket to Capital Murder. In the case of a violation of a city ordinance, the complaint, the final paragraph would include the phrase “against the peace and dignity of the City of_____, County of______, State of Texas.”

    The same holds true for use of deadly force in Texas. Texas Criminal Code spells out when deadly force is justified, and the same rules apply to police officers (as I recall, there are some exceptions for prison guards and escapees).

    I have been retired for 12+ years. There may have been some changes I’m not aware of. Liberal Dave, a practicing Texas defense attorney may have a comment on this.

  13. + 1 to Mas’s OP: due to the nature of the job they’ve undertaken to do— so the rest of us won’t have to— cops’ exposure to violence and uncertainty is *vastly* greater than anything we civilians are likely to encounter. What’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the armed civilian, is a regular occurrence for a cop. So it’s entirely logical that different standards should apply.

    The other factor that Mas touched on, the inherent uncertainty of many of these encounters— “… but the cop has no way of knowing what has motivated his opponent’s violent behavior”— deserves more emphasis.

    In many of the situations a cop encounters, he will be working with insufficient information— there will be any number of things he has no way of knowing.

    Yet by the very nature of his job, he often has to act anyway, despite that insufficient knowledge. In many cases, he can’t afford to wait until all the information is in.

    And in any situation of uncertainty, the only sensible approach is to prepare for the worst. If you think there *might* be a chance that the dude in front of you intends to kill you, the only sensible approach— the only approach most likely to keep you alive– is to assume that he *will*, and to act accordingly.

    This holds true for the cop, just as much as for the rest of us. They may be better trained, but they’re not mind-readers.

    Asking cops to routinely place themselves into these uncertain situations— then asking them to refrain from acting longer than an ordinary person would— is neither fair nor reasonable.

  14. Paul, I would be remiss if I didn’t add that if making a “citizen’s arrest”, the citizen needs to be sure that all the elements of a crime are present, meeting the same requirements of “probable cause” that are required of a police officer. While a “citizen arrest” in Texas is legal, one should consider the possible repercussions. We are discussing here the problems that can and do occur in officer involved contacts where failure to comply escalates. Don’t expect citizen versus citizen interactions to go smoother.

  15. Paul, a great ‘meditation’ on the topic of intervention can be found on the Stoppingpower.net homepage under the title ‘Dangers of Intervention’.

    As you point out, things aren’t always what they seem… so it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid intervening unless you know *for sure* what’s going on, who’s the bad guy and who’s the good guy, etc.

    For example: suppose that ‘armed robbery’ turns out to be an undercover cop making an arrest? Suppose that ‘assault’ turns out to be a domestic dispute, and the ‘victim’ ends up turning on you, her ‘rescuer’?

    Of course, if someone’s life appears to be in immediate danger, we may find ourselves having to make a judgement call without having all the facts. But short of ‘life-threatening’, my default is gonna be to call 911 if I see a crime being committed.

  16. I don’t believe “Utopian political correctness” is the cause of many rifts between police and public but the erosion of the fundamental principle, ” Innocent until proven guilty.” This goes with the assumption that fellow citizens accused of a crime is a “bad guy”, “criminal”, “thug” without any conviction of guilty. This mindset corrupts the interaction between police and the public. This leads to police becoming also the judge, jury and executioner under the guise of “I thought he/she was a bad guy.” The public doesn’t help this when they demand police to be tough on crime.

    I believe it would be beneficial to society if we review the ideals around Blackstone’s formulation.
    “Better that ten guilty persons escape than than one innocent suffer” Sir William Blackstone (1765)

    Benjamin Franklin stated it as, “It is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer”.

    While defending British soldiers for their role in the Boston Massacre, John Adams stated, ” It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished….when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, ‘it is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.’ And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever”

    John Adams warning should be ringing loud and clear in our ears today. The death of a citizen by the hands of law enforcement before conviction of guilt puts tremendous strains on our justice system. We must take each case very seriously if we want to remain free. The wolf of tyranny many times comes wearing the sheepish clothing of law and order.

  17. Bernard Samuels, welcome. You may a good point, but it’s not directly relevant to the discussion. “Better 100 guilty go free than 1 innocent be wrongfully convicted” speaks to the courts, a relatively leisurely setting in which to sift evidence. What is under discussion here is the split-second in which, for example, a drug dealer who has tried to run over a police officer now appears to be reaching for a gun,and if not stopped can murder the officer in the next second.

    The standard for the armed citizen is “what would a reasonable and prudent person have done, in the exact same situation as the defendant’s, knowing what the defendant knew?” It’s known generically as the “reasonable man doctrine.”

    The standard for police is remarkably similar, in essence a reasonable man standard for cops that comes from SCOTUS’ decision in Graham v. Connor, and can be read as “what would a reasonable, prudent, trained and experienced police officer have done, in the exact same situation, knowing what the officer in question knew?”

    And the short form, for both, can be construed as “You don’t have to be RIGHT; you do have to be REASONABLE.”

  18. “I think police brutality is a good thing, as long as the criminals deserve it.”

    If you trust police to make that judgment on the spot, why bother with courts and juries?

    I respect cops, and generally side with them on most issues. However, as as Mas said in LFI, a conservative may be a liberal who’s been mugged, but a liberal is a conservative who’s been falsely accused of a crime. You’re willing to tolerate a 5% misapplication of the death penalty, but I shiver in horror at the thought of one out of twenty executed men being innocent, and I’m for an expanded use of the death penalty.

    While I haven’t become a liberal, I was falsely accused of a DUI in Oregon. Without police brutality, it was an unpleasant place to be, and, even though the prosecutor declined to press my case, it changed the trajectory of my life because I had to use all my student aid money to pay for a lawyer. It’s easy to talk percentages unless you’re in that small percentage of innocent people. Then you find yourself facing a system with unlimited resources thanks to the taxpayer dollar, and you’re only defense is a little thing called “The Bill of Rights” and you have to scrounge for a few dollars to get a lawyer that isn’t an overworked public defender who needs to lessen his caseload through plea deals regardless of the innocence of his client.

    You may say that police brutality is good if the guy deserves it, but that’s not the call of the cops. Because they’re on the ground, and in the thick of the action, they only get one part of the picture (A guy punched his wife. He said it was self-defense, but they haven’t yet found the knife she was going to cut him with in a jealous rage because she ditched it.) They can’t always tell if a suspect is truthful, even if they usually have a good idea. They might be able to tell if the guy is an asshole, but if that’s worthy of a police beat down then every waitress and retail cashier would be calling the cops to wail on one fifth of the population.

    I respect the police, but it’s because I respect them that I don’t want them to have the unlimited power of beat down. That’s a corrupting power by its very nature.

  19. Mas said, “What is under discussion here is the split-second in which, for example, a drug dealer who has tried to run over a police officer now appears to be reaching for a gun,and if not stopped can murder the officer in the next second.”

    That’s not what _I’ve_ been talking about here, I’ve been talking about what happens before that split second, but people keep wanting to talk only about that part.

    Tacking in a slightly different direction, I’m rather fascinated by what Mas considers to be the responsibility that’s balanced against the power. His examples of that responsibility are:
    – “keeping the peace, and the peace cannot be kept against violent criminals”
    – “pursue, overpower, capture and disarm and restrain him, and transport him to jail”
    – “dissuading him from screwing with you”
    – “restrain the violent person to protect the public, no matter what triggered that behavior”
    If those are the most important responsibilities, which I would presume since they’re the ones Mas mentions, I find it odd that Mas said here:

    https://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/2016/03/22/part-ii-where-perf-was-perf-ect/

    that he agreed with PERF recommendation 1, which is, “The sanctity of human life should be at the heart of everything an agency does.”

    http://www.policeforum.org/assets/30%20guiding%20principles.pdf

    The PERF recommendation goes on to say that these two statements are good examples of adoptions of that recommendation:

    “It is the policy of this department that officers hold the highest regard for the dignity and liberty of all persons, and place minimal reliance upon the use of force. The department respects the value of every human life and that the application of deadly force is a measure to be employed in the most extreme circumstances.”

    and

    “It is the policy of the Philadelphia Police Department, that officers hold the highest regard for the sanctity of human life, dignity, and liberty of all persons. The application of deadly force is a measure to be employed only in the most extreme circumstances and all lesser means of force have failed or could not be reasonably employed.”

    The PERF policy goes on to quote, approvingly, the following statement, “the police officer’s safety is in fact very important, but it’s no more important than the safety of everybody else” and the context makes clear that “everybody else” includes suspects.

    “The sanctity of human life should be at the heart of everything an agency does.” When it’s at the _heart,_ that’s the prime responsibility. Odd that Mas’ enumeration of responsibilities did not include that.

    So, Mas, do you continue to agree that the safety of the innocent person being confronted by the police is no less important than the safety of the officer confronting him? (And, please, don’t go off into issues of keeping certain people contained or restrained or confined. The PERF guidelines are certainly not talking about that: They’re talking about the relative safety of officers and suspects in interactions between them.)

    Or do you want to re-evaluate your support for PERF recommendation #1?

  20. Dave, preserving human life and limb has always been the Prime Directive for the police, as it is for the other emergency services. That has not changed and I hope it never does.

    What I’m afraid you’ve left out is that the officer’s own life is among the ones he or she is expected to preserve.

  21. Mas: what exactly defines “law enforcement officer” through life? Does “retirement” completely change an LEO back to “civilian?” Or to what degree may it be “once a law enforcement officer, always a law enforcement officer?” That seems to be at least somewhat a de facto policy among many “active” LEO’s towards “retired” ones. Possibly for very good reasons. What special duty may a former LEO have regarding the public peace? I once held a kind of deputy status in Federal law enforcement, and that apparently excepted me from jury duty in one criminal trial, where the defense attorney seemed to think that any LEO experience could prejudice a juror towards the accused client. That sounded like a prejudiced defense attorney to me. I felt unfair discrimination there.

  22. Liberal Dave, I cringe every time you use PERF to validate your views, much the same as my regard for the ACLU that you often cite and belong to. We could spend hours discussing who they are and how many of them achieved their status as “police executives”. Suffice to say, they tend, overwhelmingly, to be very liberal in their views and never would have achieved the appointed executive ranks that they held in the liberal ran cities that they serve/served, without those liberal views. Also, folks need to understand, many “police executives” don’t have the years of experience in law enforcement that most people believe. How that happens is a whole other topic, but suffice it to say that also is the result of liberal practices to achieve certain “goals” in liberal ran cities.

    You posted a link to Mas’s post of 3/22/2016. I commented in that thread by posting this link describing the death of a police officer whose department had imposed some of the restrictions you seem to favor–

    http://www.wnd.com/2016/03/cop-ordered-to-holster-gun-then-shot-dead/

    –a restriction any street cop would, and probably did, protest as being too big a risk to officer’s survival chances. I’m guessing this police department, belatedly, rethought their “feel good” liberal restrictions on officers.

  23. Off topic but another mass shooting occurred today. See this link:

    http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2017/09/24/before-antioch-church-shooting-suspect-made-cryptic-facebook-posts/698420001/

    This was another Church shooting. It just so happens that this Church is located about 3 miles from my residence.

    Not many details yet. So far, only one death but I understand that one or two others may be in critical condition. The suspect was confronted by a Church Usher. During the struggle, the suspect was shot (seems to be with his own gun) and held for police. So, he was caught and arrested.

    I expect more details will come out over the next few days. I don’t know if this Church was posted as a “Gun Free” zone or not. In Tennessee, it is up to the Church leadership whether to post or not. Even if not posted, people seldom carry in Church. No doubt, the criminal thought it would be a “soft target”.

  24. Mas,

    I’m not sure it is possible to accurately discuss this if you truly believe “keeping the peace”, involves arresting people who have committed no act of aggression against another, just because the state says it is immoral or illegal. The distinction as I see it, is between “peace officer” with an emphasis on preserving the peace between individuals in society and “law enforcement officer” as an agent of state policy. They are decidedly different and to claim that today’s police are both is a contradiction in terms.

    That state policy might be anything the legislators dream up, from outlawing interracial marriage, carrying a ‘concealed’ weapon, braiding hair or selling lemonade without state permission, to the pursuit of happiness, a supposedly “inalienable” right. All of these might be called “victimless” crimes but of course there is a victim, both the community who has to support these actions thru taxes (one trillion dollars and counting), to the poor individual who is thrown in prison. The biggest victim, aside from the blue line required to enforce these arbitrary rules is our Constitution and our freedom.

    Mas, If you sincerely believe that arresting and incarcerating several hundred thousand Americans each year (assuming they survive their encounter with the Enforcers) for these actions is “peaceful” or that people who self medicate (for whatever reason) are “dangerous criminals”, we are so far apart in our understanding of definitions, I do not believe further attempts to inform or communicate would benefit either of us but your readers might benefit from further study in this matter.

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/the-coming-american-dictatorship/

    https://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig7/alston6.html

    https://mises.org/library/egregiously-destructive-war-drugs

    https://mises.org/blog/drug-war-and-constitutionalists

    Again, I thank you for your platform and allowing me to input my thoughts. I will leave you with another quote from Mr. Jefferson;

    “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” Thomas Jefferson

  25. Dennis,

    I think that is why for ‘citizens arrest’ the statute mentioned seeing the felony committed in their presence. That would take care of the elements of the crime. Seeing an obvious felony (say robbery) in front of them would make it much easier to justify.

  26. Also Dennis, I dunno if “Public Peace” is the same as “against the peace and dignity of the State of Texas”. I don’t think they mean the same thing.

    See I can’t rationalize why they would mentioned felonies in Art. 14.01 of the code and then in the same breath say ‘offense against the public peace’ and it means every crime in the book.

  27. Tahn, if you think police get to choose to enforce only the laws they personally agree with, you’re right about one thing: you and I will probably have to agree to disagree. (Hopefully agreeably.) Know that you, and alternate views, are always welcome here.

    TN-MAN, the details aren’t in yet but the usher who bravely fought the gunman bare-handed at the church finally ran to his car and retrieved a gun, to hold the wounded suspect at gunpoint until help arrived (according to reports at this hour). We have to wonder how much carnage might have been prevented had he and other ushers been discreetly armed to begin with.

    Two-Gun Steve, once we are no longer sworn, our powers and responsibilities as LEOs disappear upon retirement. We have at that point only the same powers of citizen’s arrest as any citizen would have. We do have the privilege of national concealed carry under LEOSA, but are bound in most respects by the same restrictions as any citizen with a carry permit in the given jurisdiction, and additionally we have to re-qualify annually.

  28. “The death of a citizen at the hands of law enforcement before conviction of guilty” misses the point, IMHO. Punishing criminals is not the job of the police, it is a function of the courts. When police use deadly force, it is usually in self-defense. The relevant issue is not whether the decedent was guilty of a crime, but whether the cop had reasonable cause to fear for his/her own life.

    If Charles Manson were released on parole, and walked down the street minding his own business, and someone shot him, the shooting would not be legally justified.

    Conversely, suppose I’m walking down a street, and a cop stops me for questioning because I fit the description of an armed robber. The cop tells me not to move. Instead, I reach in my pocket, intending to show him my ID card. He shoots me. The shooting might be justifiable or excusable, since he may have had reason to believe I was drawing a weapon.

    In most questionable police shootings, AFAIK (Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo, Philando Castile, Dillon Taylor, Erik Scott), the explanation offered was not, “I thought he was a bad guy.” It was more like, “I thought he was drawing a gun.”

  29. Liberal Dave, says—-

    “So, Mas, do you continue to agree that the safety of the INNOCENT PERSON being CONFRONTED BY POLICE is no less important than the safety of the OFFICER CONFRONTING him?

    Dave most, if not all, of your posts seem to imply the innocence of the citizen and the confronting role (aggression?) of the police officer in police/citizen interactions. Does this mean that the police are not to be afforded any presumption of innocence up to the point that certain actions transpire leading leading to one of the two being injured or killed? That only the actions of the officer can be considered as to causation? That the officer, and he alone, controls what takes place? That the “innocent” civilian has a lesser responsibility to control his own actions (based on a myriad of possible reasons, unknowable by the officer, giving alternative reasons for those actions) That the officer must wait until the point that no action on his part can prevent himself from incurring serious bodily injury or death to ensure the other person’s presumption of innocence, in his actions/intent, is not violated?

    Another poster quoted Blackstone and Ben Franklin as to it being better for 10-100 guilty folks to go free than for one innocent person to suffer undeserved
    punishment. In the context of this thread, it would seem those quotes could be read as justification for the belief it’s better for 10-100 officers to be murdered by malefactors than one innocent person suffering death needlessly at the hands of a police officer. Is that not assigning disparate value on the value of life based on occupation?

    You speak of balance, the equal value of life to society, yet, you insist on separate thresholds to be reached before action can be taken to protect one’s life. Once upon a time, blacks were, as a matter of law, worth on 3/5 th that of a whites. What should the value of a police officer be placed at? 1/10 th, 1/100 th that of a non-police officer?

  30. I think what we have here is a sterling example of some aspects of the current socialization process in this country. Conflict is to be avoided (and boy, the definition of “conflict” is getting really broad) and there seems to be a subtle class distinction developed.

    Now I’ve never understood the frame of mind that finds getting wasted Friday or Saturday nights with your buds and beating the snot out of each other to be entertainment. That said, the lack of conflict experience-except for what the mass media presents and learned seminars on non violent resolution-has produced a large number of folks with no understanding or comprehension of the mechanics of a physical altercation or the injuries that can result from them.

    I had a graduate level Psych class from a gent who was part of the group that developed the testing protocol for those to be certified under Pennsylvania’s Lethal Weapons Training Act. As he explained it, the core assumption was that someone with superior verbal skills could reach a conflict resolution that didn’t involve force. After brief thought I asked exactly what they expected to happen when the other party had no desire to reach a peaceful resolution. The good doctor said: “Well, you have to remember that the group was all academics.” Note: they also discovered that they needed to adjust a few question, or at least the range of acceptable answers to certain questions in the interview. It seems folks with certain life experience had answers that didn’t agree with the academic viewpoint. Blue Bloods got a story line on this type of thing.

    I’m not suggesting that having physical altercations is a good thing. However, if you have no relevant experience or specialized training, you have no frame of reference to make an informed judgement or comment on how they should be conducted. I’d suggest an old training video called “Surviving Edged Weapons” as a starter.

    Now, about class. There seems to be a sub group of folks with a rather fatuous view of some of their fellow citizens. A good example is Al Gore. At one point he was lecturing his son on the need to get good grades and get into a good school “So you don’t end up like these guys.” The guys in question being his Secret Service protective detail. Unfortunately, his attitude isn’t especially uncommon.

    When I went to college, a substantial portion of the faculty had served in WWII and/or Korea. I suspect you’d look long and hard to find a vet on many faculties today. I don’t make that point to glorify conflict, but to point out the difference in world view and life experience on campus today. Not to mention the concept of “Duty”.

  31. Dennis,

    Everything you wrote was excellent, except the part about blacks once being worth 3/5th of whites. That was for the purpose of assigning representatives from the states. If black slaves had been counted as citizens in need of representation, then the slave states would have more representatives than the free states, and hence more power. By counting black slaves as 3/5ths of a person, the slave holding states would have fewer representatives in Congress than if those slaves were counted as 5/5ths of a person. It’s complicated, but it made sense at the time. The thing to remember is that good people were trying to slowly and peacefully phase out slavery.

  32. Mas, my concern with the reasonable doctrine IMHO is the shift in law enforcement mostly perceiving their fellow citizen as a threat through the militarization of officers. When I speak of militarization in this context I am talking about the mindset not the gear. This is easily done in human nature when dealing with someone that you perceive different from yourself. This pre-judgement makes it easy to defend many actions as reasonable especially if many officers are indoctrinated the same.

    For example, many people think American Pitbull Terriers are a threat. For those people, a dog approaching wagging its tail is even seen as threat and it is reasonable for them to use deadly force against the dog. In this example if the majority believe it is reasonable, the right of the dog is destroyed. Our country was built on the rights of man, not what is reasonable for the majority.

    Dennis Says, “Another poster quoted Blackstone and Ben Franklin as to it being better for 10-100 guilty folks to go free than for one innocent person to suffer undeserved
    punishment. In the context of this thread, it would seem those quotes could be read as justification for the belief it’s better for 10-100 officers to be murdered by malefactors than one innocent person suffering death needlessly at the hands of a police officer. Is that not assigning disparate value on the value of life based on occupation?”

    Dennis Says, I would argue the exact opposite is happening; that the officer’s life is being valued above the citizen. I am NOT suggesting that it should be the opposite either. Citizen and law enforcement officer values of life are equal. It is reported in 2016 that 64 officers died by gun fire included those shot by colleagues while 1058 people were killed by police. Without knowing the circumstances around each encounter, IMHO this ratio is something we as society should strive to lower without increasing officer risk.

  33. Malcolm Robertson,

    I basically agree with you, and I believe our justice system does try to be virtuous. Watching the Berkeley Riots over Milo Yiannopolis speech in February, I thought the cops were not doing anything to stop the window breakers. Maybe the violent protesters at these riots are getting arrested. I hope they are. I just don’t want to see the cops allowing protests to become violent, and then not try to stop it.

    I think about how well our justice system treated the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. Halal meals, kind treatment of the Koran and so on. I can live with that. But then to release those terrorists, and have them return to the battlefield, that’s what makes me fly off the handle.

    If Charles Manson (or Orenthal James Simpson) was walking down the street, and someone killed him, that would be legally wrong. Our government is the one to punish criminals, we don’t do that as private citizens. But to kill a first degree murderer, like Charles Manson or OJ, would be morally right. They committed first-degree murder and they deserve to die. Like I said, it is the job of the government to execute criminals, not citizens. So we live with the system we have. It is an imperfect system in an imperfect world.

  34. For the non-LEO types out there who don’t know, the REAL reason why cops eat a lot of donuts is to keep their energy levels up for dealing with the many and increasing number of bad guys/gals roaming our streets.

    Besides, they are delicious, especially the jelly ones and I had to go cold turkey on them, since they’re no long free after I quit the job.

    If someone was actually hit with a baton or other potential weapon which could cause serious bodily injury, the wielder should be charged with aggravated battery, not assault which is a threat without making contact.

  35. TN_Man is off on a few things. Knuckles of anytime are banned period. Batons require a separate (more expensive than HCP) permit to carry. Knives though no longer have any restrictions. State law passed few years back says it trumps all local laws and that’s all it says. So no State restrictions means no knife restrictions at all. Theoretically, and a lawyer buddy agreed, that would cover swords, axes, etc. Of course both of us would be happy for someone else to test said theory. 😎

    Several new laws on the books but be careful as many are worded poorly such as the so-called parking lot bill. It’s not illegal to have a legal firearm in your car at work. But to doesn’t say they can’t fire you if you do. They passed a resolution later saying that was the intent but that isn’t a guarantee the court will honor that. Or the one saying govt agencies can’t ban firearms unless they have armed guards and trained operators for the metal detectors. Of course there’s a poorly defined list of exceptions (medical facilities is a biggie for example).

    Bottom line LexisNexis has a public section and is generally up to date. Find your local reliable firearms group (TN Firearms Association is the best in TN) and use them for advice and questions. That and it never hurts to find a lawyer who will take your 0300 call.

  36. Objectivist.Dad is correct that, in TN, one can take a training course and obtain a permit to carry a baton/club. However, the intent of this law is to provide a mechanism for private security guards to be armed with batons. The way the law is written (he is right about TN laws being poorly written at times), a private citizen could get the training / permit and carry one. However, I suspect that few private citizens would bother when, for the same amount of effort and less cost, one can obtain a permit to carry a more effective handgun instead. So, as a practical matter, baton/clubs are restricted unless one is willing to jump through a bunch of hoops. Mostly, I expect that these permits go to security guards who need them for their occupation.

    As for the knife law change, I pointed that out, myself, in a followup post.

    The overall intent with my posts, however, was not to discuss the fine points of TN law. Rather it was to point out the slippery slope that develops when various “do-gooders” try to “make the world a better place” by pushing for and enacting various types of Prohibition Laws. Such laws always become a legalistic minefield because the legislator must try to define exactly what he or she wants to ban.

    We see it with the confusing set of TN weapon laws. It becomes even worse in the hardcore gun-banning States. They start defining banned firearms based upon cosmetic features (pistol grip, flash-hider, expandable stock, etc.). Then the firearms industry soon develops versions that skirt around these restrictions. The gun-banners then respond by changing the law to become even more confusing. The end result is a legal minefield for the citizen to have to navigate.

    Which is fine with the gun-banners. If they can get a few innocent citizens to step on some of the legal mines that they have laid and blow themselves into prison, why that makes the gun-banners happy. In their book, these cases will teach those fools who take the 2A seriously and who want to own those nasty guns a lesson! Leave those guns alone like we tell you! They are dangerous to operate and we have made them dangerous to even own thanks to our legal minefield!

    Liberal Dave may be all concerned about the death of an innocent person at the hands of the Police. That is, indeed, a real concern. However, the gun-banning liberals don’t worry about throwing an innocent person into prison with their gun-ban laws. No Sir! In their minds, they were not innocent. They were guilty of the SIN of trying to own a gun! So, they got what they DESERVED!

  37. Roger Wilco, I agree the 3/5th anology wasn’t perfect. I knew the history of that compromise, but felt like it fit, because so many in the race industry love to use it as a historic example of white America’s view that blacks have less value, as a race.

    Bernard Samuels, yes, there is great disparity in the numbers of officers v. citizens killed in encounters. Why? Because cops are trigger happy killers, or because they or targets?

    That number or 1058 civilians killed by law enforcement officers in 2016, in how many of these instances were the officer’s actions questionable enough to be scrutinized by the media and dominate the national conversation? How many of those cases rose to a level of intense scrutiny, because of some perceived wrongdoing on the part of the officer, actually resulted in a finding that a reasonable and prudent person would not have done the same thing? Of those cases that did result in charges being filed against the officer and tried by a court of law, in an atmosphere devoid of media hype, false “eyewitness” accounts, and political posturing, were the officers found guilty?

    After the process of elimination described above, I believe that number you cited of civilians killed by police has been whittled down to far below the 64 police killed in the line of duty. Numbers without context prove nothing.

    I’m just a voice in the conversation. Those who disagree or question my thoughts are not my enemies, nor am I their’s. This conversation is one that needs to be had. If there is a way to eliminate any loss of human life in police encounters, it needs to be embraced. It can’t be a burden borne completely by only half of the equation.

  38. For clarification of my prior post–

    ”After the process of elimination described above, I believe that number you cited of civilians killed by police has been whittled down to far below the 64 police killed in the line of duty. Numbers without context prove nothing.”

    –should have read “civilians killed unjustifiably by police”. Since I don’t recollect any media reporting of any of the police shootings being ruled justifiable homicide, I must assume none were.

  39. Mr Samuels, LE officers and military folks do not view all others as threats. They view them as potential threats. Or at least the ones who survive to retirement do. There is a massive difference in the concept.

    Frankly, until fairly recently that was the way any reasonable and prudent individual treated anyone not known to be friendly. Possibly even a few of those. Consider how many are attacked and/or killed by friends or family today.

    This isn’t being paranoid, this is exercising situational awareness. (They call this defensive driving in driving schools. One anticipates dangerous situations and prepares responses.) By your analogy, one accepts any and all pit bulls as friendly. It’s prudent to regard them as a potential threat until proven otherwise. BTW, the wagging tail may be indicative, it isn’t a certainty. Just yesterday, a young woman was bitten by a copperhead in a local urban restaurant. Obviously, she wasn’t aware of a potential, if unlikely, threat.

    I was once young and naive, and couldn’t understand why anyone would resist the police. Then I had a job (before the officer survival movement) where I had contact with a number of officers from varying departments as they responded to call about a suspicious individual. In a couple of cases, an armed suspicious individual/group (raid team). As I watched the officers approach I realized that they were utterly defenseless to an attack and I realized why some folks resist. They had good reason to believe they’d win. Things have changed for the better.

    Having due regard for your own safety isn’t regarding everyone else as different/expendable. No human should be regarded as expendable. Maintaining situational awareness is something those who don’t could benefit from.

  40. Not to belabor the subject,

    https://www.weaselzippers.us/358479-yonkers-n-y-cop-shot-in-the-face-after-being-ambushed-by-gunmen/

    How many police officers have been ambushed since this false meme of wanton killings of minorities by cops began? Any lists? Any guesses on how many liberal commentators will point to Micheal Brown’s “unjustified” death at the hands of a racist police officer ( a thoroughly debunked crusade ) or other incidents ( also all thoroughly debunked ), as the somehow righteous motivation for this attack? Or, will the news media devote any airtime at all to the ambush of this young woman?

  41. “Numbers without context prove nothing.”

    More people were killed the bombings of Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki than in the Japanese air raid on Hawaii. The Luftwaffe suffered more casualties in the Battle of Britain than did the RAF. The fact remains that Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire were the aggressors in WWII.

    If 1058 “civilians” were killed by police in a year, and “only” 64 cops were killed, that could simply mean that there were 1122 cases of violent criminals attempting to murder police officers, and the cops successfully defended themselves in 1058 of those cases.

    I would expect cops to win a majority of gunfights, if only because they are trained in marksmanship and tactics, and most criminals are not.

    I would be happy if 0 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. And I would not object if ten million criminals were shot to death by police (and/or by private citizens) , as long as those shootings were justified by circumstances.

  42. Mas,

    Your welcome of “alternative views” speaks well of your sense of fairness and of the strength of your convictions and of your ability to defend these views. On behalf of everyone who believes in open debate and cordial discussion, even of controversial ones, I thank you Sir!

    Concerning “police choosing only to enforce the laws they personally agree with”, I would rephrase that into “Police refusing to enforce laws they personally (or constitutionally) disagree with” and offer the following examples of just such actions.

    First the humorous ones: “Archaic Laws”, no longer enforced. These are laws still on the books which no officer will enforce. A web search will produce many more such “laws”.

    https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/top-craziest-laws-still-on-the-books

    Mas, I doubt you have arrested any woman in Fla. for falling asleep under a hair drier.

    Next, the many examples of “blue flu” or where officers selectively decide to not enforce laws for various reasons, including “unconstitutional” ones.

    “The Post obtained the numbers hours after revealing that cops were turning a blind eye to some minor crimes…”

    http://nypost.com/2014/12/29/arrests-plummet-following-execution-of-two-cops/

    Also; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/sheriffs-refuse-to-enforce-laws-on-gun-control.html

    http://www.truthandaction.org/250-police-officers-refuse-enforce-gun-laws-connecticut/

    Again, a web search will reveal more examples. Please understand, there may be logical and understandable reasons for officers to selective enforce some laws. I am merely relating that it does indeed happen. Two of the links above relate to “Unconstitutional reasons”, which leads me back to my original premise.

    In my humble opinion, ALL mala prohibita rules of social control, from carrying concealed to drug use, are unconstitutional and should not be enforced by police or prosecutors, because they have (supposedly) taken an oath that their supreme duty is to the U.S. Constitution. As I stated in a previously post, there was a constitutional amendment to outlaw the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Where is the amendment giving “anyone” the authority to control personal behavior that harms no one else, whether drugs or raw milk?

    Not only are Officers violating the constitution and their oaths in such action but they are opening themselves up to potential harm in the future. As the article in the following link states, police were not immune from prosecution for “following orders”. Every person murdered in the concentration camps was “legally” executed and the soldiers and police responsible were “upholding the law”.

    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-refuse-enforce-unjust-laws/

    Mas, I am relating all of this, as in my previous posts because I perceive that our Country is in a terrible state of confusion and anger, much of which is caused by “prohibita” enforcement. This enforcement has caused a widening rift between the people ( especially minorities of color or culture) and the Police.

    Please forgive my using links to help me attempt to explain my position. I am not a writer, researcher, officer or attorney. I am merely an old guy who believes that our “thin blue line”, could overnight, PEACEFULLY restore our Constitutional rights and PEACEFULLY restore the trust between officers and the people by this one simple act, of refusing to enforce the dictatorial edicts of subjugation and control handed down by legislators everywhere.

    Thank you again Mas!

    “Every law consistent with the Constitution will have been made in pursuance of the powers granted by it. Every usurpation or law repugnant to it cannot have been made in pursuance of its powers. The latter will be nugatory and void.” – Thomas Jefferson

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