Sermon of the Mounties?

The Binghamton, NY police force’s two-hour-long cooling-of-heels outside the silent immigration center where a mass murder had occurred and gravely wounded people were waiting for help is not the only recent incident of police … I can’t think of the right word for this behavior that goes beyond cowardice, beyond Eloidom, into some new dimension of moral non-existence. Mark Steyn mentions the Canadian Mounties’ four hours’ thumb-twiddling outside the Greyhound bus in which Vince Weiguang Li was slicing off and eating the body parts of his decapitated victim, and another ghastly incident in England in which two parents and their small child burned to death when they were caught in a house fire and police prevented neighbors from trying to save them. (Here is the original story in the Times of London, which Steyn does not link.)

Clearly there’s a new protocol governing the police departments of the Anglosphere when dealing with murder, threats of murder, and other life-threatening and horrible situations. What exactly is it? Resist not evil?

- end of initial entry -

Gintas writes:

“Clearly there’s a new protocol governing the police departments of the Anglosphere when dealing with murder, threats of murder, and other life-threatening and horrible situations. What exactly is it? Resist not evil?”

Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide.

April 6

Roland D. writes:

I first noticed this cowardice on the part of police departments during the Columbine massacre, when they failed to go in until it was all over.

The police want to have all this heavy equipment for their SWAT teams, all the draconian powers of detainment and warrantless entry, etc., but they only want to use them when they go after low-level pot dealers, religious zanies, Cuban political defectors, and others whom they know won’t put up any resistance.

When it comes to going in and getting hostages out of danger, they choke, every time. We saw this in the Virginia Tech massacre, for example.

In the recent horrific beheading of a five-year-old girl, the murderer was able to behead the girl, then *leave the room and go into another room and begin stabbing another victim* before the police finally shot him dead. The only explanation I have is that the police choked, because their aggressive instincts in truly dangerous situations have been dampened. [LA replies: Good catch. I wondered about that too. The news article said that as the officer entered the apartment he saw the perp in the living room behead his five year old sister. No explanation of how the perp was then able to leave the living room and start attacking another sister in a bedroom.]

I believe that a lot of this has to do with the bureaucratic instinct to avoid all possible legal liabilities—i.e., they’re afraid that the families of officers wounded or killed in the line of duty will sue the departments for having done in recklessly, or somesuch. This is the same impetus behind the unconscionable rise in Taser use against children, the elderly, and others who could be apprehended using good old-fashioned brute force.

April 6

Kevin V. writes:

The fact that police do not intervene in on-going shootings has been something that I’ve been thinking about since the Columbine Massacre. God only knows how many of those poor kids bled to death while the local cops hid behind patrol cars. I did, however, want to pass along to you this Corner posting by a cop I do respect, the LAPD’s “Jack Dunphy.”

Dunphy writes:

Mark Steyn echoes the frustration expressed by many at the failure of some police officers to react decisively to an incident of ongoing violence. He cites a news story on the mass killing in Binghamton, New York, that told of officers arriving within two minutes of receiving the first call, but waiting “for about an hour before entering the building to make sure it was safe for officers.”

“What’s the point of calling 911, Mark asks, “if they arrive within two minutes and then sit outside for the rest of the day to ‘make sure it’s safe?’”

The question is reminiscent of the Columbine massacre that occurred ten years ago this month outside Denver. The delay in deploying officers into the school led to changes in policy in my own Los Angeles Police Department and in other agencies across the country. In Los Angeles, officers responding to reports of shots fired within a school, a business, or what have you, must determine if they are facing an “active shooter” or a “barricaded suspect.” In the case of the former, the first four officers on the scene are obliged to make entry, locate the shooter, and end his aggression. In the case of a barricaded suspect, it is assumed that he has no access to victims inside, allowing the officers time to take whatever actions are needed to apprehend him. If this involves waiting outside for the suspect to surrender or fall asleep, so be it.

But in a situation where, as in Binghamton, a suspect is known to have shot people, an hour’s delay in making entry strikes me as grossly excessive. Even if the gunfire had ceased, the people already wounded deserved an all-out effort to provide them with medical care as quickly as possible. I expect we’ll be learning that some of the victims bled to death while waiting for the help that came too late. Knowing how police departments function as I do, I have no doubt that there were officers ready and willing to enter the building within minutes but were prevented from doing so by superiors who, in ordinary circumstances, make no decisions weightier than selecting which desk tray to place a piece of paper in. These people had to be prodded from their desks when the trouble started, and their presence at the scene merely clogged up the decision-making process.

April 8

Richard P. writes:

The reason that police aren’t immediately engaging these evil people is because for much of the last two decades police departments have been operating under a new doctrine—force protection. Police departments once operated under the assumption that their first priority was protection of the public. That is no more. If you read interviews with police chiefs and management related to budgets or following any big incidents with mass shootings or unneccessary force you will hear mention their first priority as protecting the safety of their officers. This is part and parcel with the militarization trend we’ve seen in police forces nationwide.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s most search warrants were handled this way: unifomed deputies, usually with plain clothes detectives, show up at the residence. They knock and announce themselves and are let in or, with no response after some time will force open the door. It was handled pretty peacefully. No-knock forced entries began in the 1980s and were justified because drug dealers might destroy evidence by flushing it. This falls off the logic train for a few reasons, namely that any dealer with so little product that he can flush the whole thing isn’t likely to be worth a search warrant and has just seriously harmed his business in the process, but no matter.

We’ve seen a progression where now most search and arrest warrants are served by armor-wearing machine gun wielding tactical teams. They say this is to protect the police in these matters. It certainly isn’t to protect the occupants of any home they search. In the last few years this SWAT mentality has gone down to the local officer level. Street patrol officers in my little Texas suburb now wear heavy body armor and tactical rigs and approach cars in traffic stops with a large flashlight in one hand and the other on their gun at all times. They wait for backup to arrive before approaching the vehicle on traffice stops of cars with several occupants. This in an upper middle-class suburb.

There seems to be no realization that this creates an us-vs-them mentality, or that placing force protection as the first priority allows killers to continue killing as in your stories. Each new headline of some violent act reinforces this attitude amongst the police. It has reached a point where some police forces are purchasing heavy armored vehicles with .50 caliber mounted machine guns. Police are no longer a part of the community in the way they once were.

LA replies:

I’ve copied and replied to Richard’s comment in a new entry.

April 11

James M2 writes:

Most Americans are not aware that the police have no legal obligation to protect them. The courts have consistently upheld that police are responsible only for the general protection of society via the enforcement of laws (to perform arrests afters crimes occur), and that individuals are responsible for their own protection and for the protection of their families. If you dial 911 and the police happen to arrive in time and save you from the bad guy, they do so out of sense of duty only. So the type of police behavior described in your Sermon of the Mounties entry makes it’s own kind of sense when you ask yourself: “What happens to a sense of duty under liberalism?”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 05, 2009 06:58 PM | Send

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