15 April 2015

Why a 73 year old insurance man and reserved deputy was put in a position to kill

The only ones who don't know the answer to why Robert Charles "Bob" Bates was put in a position to accidentally shoot and kill a suspect are those who are not cops.  There is lots of hay being made out of the fact that he had donated thousands of dollars to the Tulsa Sheriff's Office over the years.  For those that are not familiar this is a very common thing in many jurisdictions and states.  More than ever agencies are hurting for money and looking to add money to their coffers from any legal source.  This was the case here.

In many areas affluent business and citizen give agencies money for everything from body armor to new vehicles and mayors, city councils, chiefs, and sheriff's are happy to take it.  Often these agencies have auxiliary and reserve units, that in days gone by...and not so gone by were basically a way for those who were not police to ride around with their buddies who were.  It only makes sense that a fella like Bob Bates who had done so much for the SO would be involved with their reserve program.

Now don't get me wrong, I am friends with and have trained some auxiliary and reserve officers who were better motivated and better trained than the full timers.  In most cases, they had careers that allowed them to make much more money than a police officer does, and came to a time in their lives when they had the time to volunteer for the department and fulfill a life long dream.  The problem is that very often they just want to wear a cop costume to get looked at.  Not surprising since there are lots of full time police that are the same way.  They want to wear the Superman costume but have no interest in fighting crime.  What do they both have in common?  Little to no interest in training, especially if it is physical training.

In my honest opinion, the majority of police excessive force cases could be avoided by two things, punching officers in the face during their interview, and continuing to punch them in the face during training.  Violence is the 800 pound Gorilla in law enforcement.  Sooner or later no matter how old you are, no matter what color you are, you will have to arrest someone who does not want to go.  In the days before OC and Tasers you had two options...use your hands, or use your stick/sap/jack.  This meant that officers were no strangers to violence and did not get flustered when people fought through OC or a Taser went clack clack clack with no visible effect to the suspect.  They did not automatically go to gun, they just hit them again and harder.

It is this lack of inoculation to violence and reliance of things that spit a substance or electricity that causes excessive force.

Back to old Bob.  He was a reserve deputy, but in every agency there are guys like him that should not be carrying a badge much less a Taser or a gun.  These guys are usually thought, called, or considered "goofs'.  They would make a good neighbor, or in this case an insurance salesman, a nice enough guy, but not a cop.  They usually have no interest in firearms or any officer survival related skill sets and stand in the back of the group.  In Bob's case, the bosses would not be very happy if the instructor said something and Bob stopped cutting checks.  But in most cases, they are regular officers who if pushed by an instructor will do one of two things, either fake an injury and cause a loss time injury, which is the death null to a training program, or just call off sick that night because they are sore.

As soon as society and police administrators come to grips with the fact that policing can be violent and the ability to recognize when and how much violence to use early on in a situation will cut down on the injuries to officers and offenders we will be better off.  I am not holding my breath.  Don't Tase me bro.

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