Sunday, February 27, 2011

"On Police, Guns and Fear"

The photo of Mr. Falkenbury (above) is only one I could find on the Google---it's from 2002.

Dick Falkenbury, op-ed(
You cannot make a case that someone with a three inch knife is any threat to an officer in a patrol car with the windows rolled up (there was no evidence that the officer thought that Willimas was armed with a gun).

And that brings me to my point: the problem is, we are still asking officers to confront and, in every case, subdue the bad guys. We ask officers to go into the house to investigate domestic violence when it is much better to call on a phone and ask the people to come outside, separately, to speak with the officers (who should remain safely behind their cars at a safe distane). We should make it public policy that officers take the slow, methodical and safest way out of a confrontation.

This will take longer. More hostage situations will develop and it may even cost more.

But I think that it would be good public policy to err on the side of reducing shooting, be they police shooting civilians or hopefully civilians shooting police. In the Wild West, there were two kinds of lawman. Wild Bill Hickok was a great one for shooting miscreants. He shot many men who violated the law in his town. Meanwhile, Bat Matterson was the lawman in another town. He took a different approach. He took the guns away from everyone before the trouble started. Now, we can’t take the guns away from everyone and I am not advocating that. What I am advocating is trying to solve the problem in the least confrontational style. And I am well aware that sometimes, too often, there needs to be a confrontation and of the most violent sort. The officer who shot Maurice Clemons without a word or allowing Clemons to surrender was not only right, he should be commended.

Sometimes this distinction will be difficult if not impossible to make. We ask our police officers to make life-and-death decisions all the time. All I am suggesting is that we no longer demand that they assume a confrontational style of action. We should encourage police to try to handle the situation in the least confrontational manner available to them.

We should not demand of our police that they take down the bad guy, or what they perceive as a bad guy, everytime. MORE...
Howie P.S.: If you don't know much about Dick, here's a little bio:
Dick Falkenbury grew up and spent most of his life in the Roosevelt area of Seattle. He began driving cabs in 1978, later becoming a tour driver and tour bus driver in 1992. In 1996, having worked in many liberal political campaigns in the Seattle area, Falkenbury wrote and led an initiative effort to build a monorail throughout Seattle.

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