Drug Policy

Adventures in Police Professionalism

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D.C. Police Chief Kathy Lanier rehires 17 police officers previously fired for misconduct.

Then she decides the city will arm them with semiautomatic weapons.

Sounds like a fantastic couple of ideas. What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, a coda to the Kathryn Johnston botched drug raid case in Atlanta: Arthur Tesler was the only officer on the raid who didn't take a plea bargain. Despite admitting that he lied, helped cover up Johnston's murder, and stood watch outside while other officers handcuffed the bleeding 92-year-woman—allowing her to die while they planted marijuana in her basement—he was convicted today only on the charge of lying to investigators. He'll face a maximum of five years in prison.

The one good thing to come out of the case is we got to see just how vast, deep, and pernicious the culture of corruption and disregard for civil rights ran in Atlanta's police department. Tesler testified that narcotics officers were required to serve nine warrants and make two arrest per month, or they'd risk losing their jobs. This led to routine lying on warrants and bullying and intimidation of informants. What we don't know is how many people were wrongly raided, arrested, and jailed because of all of this.

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  1. Well, this is obviously just an isolated incident. Another battle in the epic WOD. Move along please, or I will taser you.

  2. I thought the police already had S.W.A.T.? I admit the idea of an average patrolman carrying an AR-15 amuses me.

  3. Of the anecdotes they provided the only one who should be out on their ass (and prosecuted) is the dude that got info on the City Paper reporter.

    The rest they cited, I would accept lesser punative action short of firing.

  4. they provided the only one who should be out on their ass (and prosecuted) is the dude that got info on the City Paper reporter.

    Agreed. Yeah, maybe IA should focus less on the regular sham artists and actually use their authority on this guy. That’s the kind of guy who doesn’t belong on the force, the kind of guy who’ll probably one day use an informant to set up somebody he doesn’t like.

  5. Yeah, I noticed they did suspend and investigate this guy again. Good for them. With the weapons charge now, though, this officer really is trouble waiting to happen.

  6. It is lovely, living in the “freest country in the world”.

  7. The one good thing to come out of the case is we got to see just how vast, deep, and pernicious the culture of corruption and disregard for civil rights ran in Atlanta’s police department.

    Another thing we learned is just how horribly bad things have to go for cops to get any kind of discipline at at all, however mild.

    We also got a glimpse into the ugly reality of routine police behavior as you can be damn certain this isn’t only going on in Atlanta.

    Tesler testified that narcotics officers were required to serve nine warrants and make two arrest per month, or they’d risk losing their jobs. This led to routine lying on warrants and bullying and intimidation of informants.

    So once again I’ll ask, where were all the so-called “good cops” while this was going on? Why the complete and utter silence while massive corruption is routinely occurring if, as I’m often assured, “good cops” make up the large majority of all cops?

    I think we need a name for a “good cop” analogue to the Fermi Paradox. Something like:

    The Fermi Balko paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations good cops and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations cops.

    It should not be harder to Find a good cop speaking out, much less arresting these officers engaged in felonies, than it is for the SETI program find a signal from intelligent life.

  8. From the second link:

    The city got the AR-15 rifles from the Department of Defense for free as military surplus items.

    Errm, somebody please help me out here but isn’t the AR-15 the civilian (non-rapid fire) version of the M-16?? Do the US Armed forces actually use AR-15s?

    Lanier said it is not unusual for criminals to have body armor and higher-powered guns in street robberies, bank heists and drive-by shootings. Police said the rifles would be useful when officers respond to bank robberies or hostage situations, as well as worst-case scenarios such as the massacre last year at Virginia Tech, when a gunman killed 32 people before killing himself.

    All appropriate uses of SWAT teams not beat cops. That is what SWAT teams were developed for and giving beat cops bigger guns isn’t gonna change that. SWAT teams already have higher powered weapons and in some cases APCs and armored cars. Perhaps if they weren’t using SWAT to raid non-violent drug user’s homes perhaps they would be free to take care of the real crime.

    A team of commando-style robbers carried out a string of bank heists in the District and Maryland in 2004, armed with assault rifles and handguns.

    I looked into this and all text I could find refers to the rifles as “assault rifles” (including the DOJ Press Release) without mentioning make or model. The only picture referenced in the court’s opinion (PDF) was from the WAPO and that rather blurry image indicates that the rifle may have been an AK-47 and while the article mentions “machine gun fire” none of the court documents indicate the type of weapon used (fully automatic or semiautoatic.). IOW, said bank robbers may well have used rifles very similar to the AR-15s the DC police are now expected to carry on routine patrols. What’s a “dangerous assault rifle” in the hands of criminals or the average civilian becomes a “semiautomatic rifle” in the hands of the police. How convenient is that?

  9. Kwix: AFAIK, the M-16 is the military designation for the AR-15. The civilian version of this rifle is limited to semi-auto mode of fire, otherwise they are identical in parts and operation.

  10. Let’s see: dirty cops get semiautomatics, clean citizens get dirty copy with semiautomatics.

    Seems like a fair deal to me.

  11. “Then she decides the city will arm them with semiautomatic weapons.”

    This isn’t helpful.

    Radley, Go take a shooting coarse and join us in the gun culture. Your second amendment guarantees all your other rights.

  12. Loupeznik | May 20, 2008, 7:42pm | #
    “Then she decides the city will arm them with semiautomatic weapons.”

    This isn’t helpful.

    Radley, Go take a shooting coarse(sic) and join us in the gun culture. Your second amendment guarantees all your other rights.

    In a city (DC) that bans citizens from owning guns of any stripe I think it’s very telling that the Police Chief wants to put more powerful guns in the hands of cops. Regardless of how you view the guns in question, it is the police who now have the upper hand on civilians. Radley was just pointing out that “semi-automatic” rifles, the same ones banned from ownership by civilians in DC are now being carried by beat cops. You don’t have to be part of the “gun culture” to see that is a massive power imbalance.

  13. It should not be harder to Find a good cop speaking out, much less arresting these officers engaged in felonies, than it is for the SETI program find a signal from intelligent life.

    To be fair, Radley did a post about a good cop and the consequences he faced a month or two ago. If anyone can link to that one,I’d appreciate it. IIRC, this cop testified against cops in another jurisdiction about physical abuse that he witnessed. His own police union sent a letter to the other jurisdiction apologizing for his arrogant truthful testimony.

  14. “The one good thing to come out of the case is we got to see just how vast, deep, and pernicious the culture of corruption and disregard for civil rights ran in Atlanta’s police department.” WTF “ran” RUNS!

  15. Kwix: AFAIK, the M-16 is the military designation for the AR-15. The civilian version of this rifle is limited to semi-auto mode of fire, otherwise they are identical in parts and operation.

    Not so, the internals are different. The exterior parts may be the same, but the interior guts are different. Gets people in trouble with BAlwaysThinkForfieture more than you might think.

    This is somewhat ridiculous. They won’t be marching down the street, any more so than with current shotguns. They’ll be mounted in the vehicle or in the trunk to go to when needed. I personally think this is much better than SWAT, as it doesn’t promote the overuse thereof.

  16. You don’t have to be part of the “gun culture” to see that is a massive power imbalance.

    It helps to view it as wrong, though. The joe’s of the world would say this is a wonderful thing.

  17. Bingo | May 20, 2008, 7:33pm | #
    Kwix: AFAIK, the M-16 is the military designation for the AR-15. The civilian version of this rifle is limited to semi-auto mode of fire, otherwise they are identical in parts and operation.

    Yeah, I understand the designation of the original Colt AR15=M16. So my question still remains, which did the DC police get, the civilian “semi-auto” or the military surplus “full-auto”? Did the military switch out receivers, does the military use the semi-auto version or is the article wrong an the DC police now use fully automatic rifles?

  18. I personally think this is much better than SWAT, as it doesn’t promote the overuse thereof.

    I am not so sure of this Matt. The more divide you put between the police and the average citizen, the more “us and them” the mentality becomes. Then again, I am already distrustful enough of authority that I don’t see how this will improve things.

  19. If a .223 Winchester (AR-15) round is high power why isn’t it legal (too small) for deer in Minnesota? I’m not volunteering to take a round but I betcha bad guys with .270s or 30-06s would hold the upper hand in a fire fight, power wise. An SKS with a 50 round mag would put out some kinda fire power, as well.

  20. Other Matt:

    I know you are obviously not me, but what’s weird is, is you often give the same answers to questions and comments that I would give, if I were the Matthew responding to those comments.

    Which I’m not.

    But it’s creeping me out.

  21. Other Matt | May 20, 2008, 7:55pm | #

    You don’t have to be part of the “gun culture” to see that is a massive power imbalance.

    It helps to view it as wrong, though. The joe’s of the world would say this is a wonderful thing.

    I agree that Radley’s sentence should have been a bit more clear, like say “higher powered semiautomatic rifles” but otherwise it is fully factual and non-biased.

    I mean seriously, the question isn’t of the rifles in question but that crooked cops in a city where the average Joe can’t own a gun of any flavor are upping their firepower in the name of “law and order”. Pointing out that the police are now toting rifles that law abiding citizens can’t own and most criminals don’t own is, I believe, a good thing even if it makes the weapon in question sound “scary”.

    Though, I suppose the average Joe in DC thinks that police owning guns that he cannot is the normal order of things so perhaps they don’t see this as the travesty it is.

  22. http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30570

    U.S. To Fight Terror With Terror

    “We tried playing fair,” Rumsfeld continued. “But how can you play by the rules when your opponent doesn’t even know the rules? You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. That’s just the way it is, folks. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.”

    On the seven-minute tape, Rumsfeld is joined by counter-terrorist leaders Vice-President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft, each seated on folding chairs in front of an American flag. Ashcroft described some tactics the government currently uses-pre-dawn assaults on civilian targets and subjecting potential stateside traitors to psychological intimidation-as a “small step in the right direction.”

    “I can’t really say what we have planned for the future,” Rumsfeld said. “As terrorists, fear and uncertainty will be our best weapons. Let me just say that the gloves are off. It is inevitable that indiscriminate attacks will be carried out, and innocents will lose their lives, but the end will justify the means.”

  23. on the AR-15/M16 point…

    are they select-fire or not? i.e. 3 round burst or no?

    Semi auto is a misleading term, because a civilian bushmaster AR15 is semi as well. Are they milspec or what?

  24. How long before they serve a no-knock warrant and really piss someone off? One day they will pull this nonsense and someone will get more than a little upset that they killed their 92 year old grandmother. I wouldn’t want to work in that police station when the truck bomb goes off.

  25. “What we don’t know is how many people were wrongly raided, arrested, and jailed because of all of this. . . ”

    In the case of the drug war, it’s easy: all we need do is count how many people were raided, arrested, and jailed, and we’d pretty much arrive with that at how many have been wrongly raided, arrested, and jailed.

  26. AR-15’s are, by definition, semi-automatic. One pull of the trigger fires one round.

    In theory, I don’t have a problem with police officers being issued self-loading rifles for patrol. The AR-15 is much easier to shoot accurately than, say, a 12 gauge shotgun.

    That said, I have a very fundamental issue with any city that issues a particular type of firearm to their police while prohibiting ownership of the same sort of gun by private citizens.

  27. Errm, somebody please help me out here but isn’t the AR-15 the civilian (non-rapid fire) version of the M-16?? Do the US Armed forces actually use AR-15s?

    The original select fire “M-16s” supplied to the US Air Force (and some to the Army, I think) were stamped “AR-15”. The military designation was, I think, XM-15. When the “X” designation was dropped and the rifle formally adopted by the Army, the designation M-16 was adopted. So maybe these officers are getting real pieces of military history. Or maybe (as usual) the journalists got it wrong.

  28. Full auto is generally reserved only for use by SWAT. While I don’t know anything about Washington DC’s police department, I do know that most PD’s can be somewhat risk averse.

    It’s unlikely that they’re going to issue Officer Donut a full-auto rifle simply because they don’t want to deal with the liability issues that would result from any instance where he freaks out, throws the safety switch to rock ‘n’ roll, and empties an entire magazine with his eyes squinched shut.

    I have been told that some PD’s won’t even issue buckshot for use in shotguns, instead mandating slugs only simply because of the perceived liability issues attached to firing a weapon that expels 9 projectiles with every pull of the trigger.

  29. if i remember correctly the term AR-15 refers to the original stoner rifle made by armalite (hence, Armalite Rifle 15), when adopted by the US military, designated M-16. The AR brand was licensed to colt who continued to manufacture versions of it under the original name for semi auto civilian and military use, with the LE version having slightly different specs than the military version. My question was if (since the weapons were supplied by DOD) they were milspec weapons, with 3round burst fire as an option instead of full auto.

    I agree full auto is not LE spec but 3round fire is – as is common on the LE HK MP5 versions that are issues to special units.

  30. What we don’t know is how many people were wrongly raided, arrested, and jailed because of all of this.

    Unfortunately, once serious corruption is uncovered, we have to assume all of them were.

  31. Kwix | May 20, 2008, 7:56pm | #

    FWIW kwix asked the same question, only if it was full auto.

    Based on the specs of the govt issue LE AR15, it’s only safe and semi, so i guess the answer is no, no select 3round fire, no full auto. thats only on the mil M4/M16 version – but the govt also buys the semi auto Ar15 version for MPs and whatnot.

    http://www.colt.com/law/ar15a2.asp

  32. In all fairness he wasn’t in charge during the operation. Much as a Jew I loath the following orders defense the commanders are the ones who really need to be locked up for a long time.

  33. “Despite admitting that he lied, helped cover up Johnston’s murder, and stood watch outside while other officers handcuffed the bleeding 92-year-woman-allowing her to die while they planted marijuana in her basement-he was convicted today only on the charge of lying to investigators. He’ll face a maximum of five years in prison.”

    The irony here is that lying to investigators when you are not under oath should not be a crime, at least any more than it is a crime when they or other government personnel lie to you. Getting prison time for lying to an investigator is like getting impeached for a BJ, especially when many other, truly serious charges would stick.

    It is hard for me to applaud the right thing (punishment) happening for the wrong reason, as this only continues the country’s spiral into lawlessness.

  34. Seven New York City police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell, including three detectives who were acquitted in a criminal trial, were formally accused on Tuesday of breaking Police Department rules in the case.

    The department said that the officers violated the internal policy manual – its Patrol Guide – in a variety of ways, including improperly firing their guns and failing to process the crime scene after Mr. Bell was killed and his two friends injured in a storm of 50 bullets.
    […]

    Officers Face Departmental Charges in Bell Killing

  35. GILMORE,

    From the linked article, the DC police got surplus M-16’s/M-4’s (doesn’t say which) from the DOD 2 years ago. It has taken them 2 years to convert them from Full Auto to Semi Auto.

  36. That said, I have a very fundamental issue with any city that issues a particular type of firearm to their police while prohibiting ownership of the same sort of gun by private citizens.

    What they issue to the officers is beside the point. They’re beyond their constitutional powers by banning a weapon in the first place.

    -jcr

  37. Other Matt:

    I know you are obviously not me, but what’s weird is, is you often give the same answers to questions and comments that I would give, if I were the Matthew responding to those comments.

    Which I’m not.

    But it’s creeping me out.

    What’s in a name? I got sick of too many “Matt”‘s about, now there’s even someone posting under “matth”, which is my last name initial. Having the same answer is just common sense.

  38. I am not so sure of this Matt. The more divide you put between the police and the average citizen, the more “us and them” the mentality becomes. Then again, I am already distrustful enough of authority that I don’t see how this will improve things.

    I should probably clarify. The use of SWAT for routine warrant service is a bad thing. If they are the only ones with rifles, however, they’ll be called more often. Giving the average police officer an option is not a bad thing, and means that situations requiring a rifle can be dealt with without calling out SWAT. The CA episode, for instance, could have been dealt with quite early.

    They won’t be carrying around rifles on a regular patrol basis, at least I don’t read it that way. The pain in the ass factor would preclude that, I’d guess. I don’t see it as furthering a gap with people so much as lessening the need to call SWAT.

  39. If the 17 cops who were re-hired after having been fired for misconduct weren’t given AR-15’s, they’d still have sidearms, right? Is there any concievable harm that a bad cop can do with an AR-15 that he can’t do with a Glock 17?

  40. Abdul posted: [quote]Is there any concievable harm that a bad cop can do with an AR-15 that he can’t do with a Glock 17?[/quote]

    Yes. Hit and injure or kill someone at 300 yards. Try to imagine any [u]safe[/u] 300 yard “killing” zone in a built-up, crowded urban city like D. C. Hard to do? You bet your life.

    Only a police “professional” could safely use a rifle in this area. But, not to worry, the Supreme Court thinks they are just that. After all, those nice young men always open the door for the Justice.

  41. “Tesler testified that narcotics officers were required to serve nine warrants and make two arrest per month, or they’d risk losing their jobs. This led to routine lying on warrants and bullying and intimidation of informants. What we don’t know is how many people were wrongly raided, arrested, and jailed because of all of this.”

    C’mon folks, don’t get bogged down in administrative details. There are Root Causes at work here. Who hasn’t been victimized by stupid goals and unreasonable metrics? Who among us hasn’t just shut-up and tried to live with them…even when they take the organization in exactly the wrong direction?

    This is what you get when you let MBAs run everything; manipulation by goal & metric. When the people at the top have no rooted commitment to justice or integrity but, instead, only look to further their own career; then justice, integrity, and reason itself go out the window.

    The cops on the front line have bills to pay, families to feed and are often young & inexperienced. As a result they tend to give their leadership the benefit of the doubt. When they follow orders and things fall apart, they look to leadership to find a way out. Until we can find a way to provide them with leadership worthy of the name (rather than headline grabbing careerists) I’d look for something beyond imprisoning cops as an answer.

  42. To paraphrase the Instapundit: they told me when Bush was re-elected, the country would be turned into a police state, and they were right.

    “an average patrolman carrying an AR-15”
    Can you blame the chief? DC is full of crooks, at least a couple hundreds under the Capitol Dome. They rob you everyday to enrich themselves and their cronies. They need police protection to safeguard their loots.

  43. Big Boy:

    My point was the type of harm Radley Balko is presumably worried about is an unjustified shooting. If a cop kills someone from three yards or three hundred yards, the real issue is whether or not the shooting was justified by reasonable necessity to protect innocent life.

  44. I am curious… what would you folks deem acceptable armament for police? Flintlocks?

    The are *semi*-automatic rifles not automatics. You pull the trigger and it shoots one round, you let go and pull it again, one more round.

    Should they have to stop after each round to find their cap, ball, and powder before loading their muzzleloader with ramrods?

    OMG it an AR-15!1! It *looks* dangerous and frightens morons.

  45. Simply spoken, the problem is that rounds from a rifle have much more energy than pistol rounds.

    That means that they either

    (a) give off that energy quickly in fragmentation and/or tumble (think HP rounds), grievously injuring any person hit, very often beyond the point of medical help and almost always beyond full recovery. That would be fine if police would only target real criminals, which wasn’t even true if they kept to policy (which they don’t), because of the WoD and similar abuses.
    Furthermore, cops very often can’t shoot right and go into hysterics/feeding frenzy when a firing situation comes – just look at those cases where they empty whole clips because somebody reached for their wallet.

    (b) keeps pretty much intact and on a more or less straight path (e.g., FMJ ammo), in which case it can travel through (often multiple) walls and/or people, injuring and occasionally killing everything in its path. This: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6760530260633420235 should be instructive.

    This post simplifies it a bit, so please kindly keep it to yourself, ballistics nerds; the basic point holds in any case.

  46. I’ve been reading this thread and wanted to make an informed response..ah screw it. You people sicken me, espically the moron (sorry you are) who couldn’t wait for the day someone truck bombed a police station. All this reminds me of a bumper sticker from the 60’s. Hate cops? Next time your in trouble call a hippie.

  47. Lanier said it is not unusual for criminals to have body armor and higher-powered guns in street robberies, bank heists and drive-by shootings.

    I believe this is an outright lie.

    I think it is quite unusual for criminals to have body armor and anything heavier than a 9mm.

    Some evidence about the widespread use of military hardware by street criminals would be nice. You’d think a competent reporter would have asked the cop flack for it.

    I am curious… what would you folks deem acceptable armament for police?

    The police should have the same weapons other citizens are allowed to have, no more and no less. The AR-15s don’t bother me in principle, although I question the policy of sprinkling them liberally throughout the police force.

  48. I am curious… what would you folks deem acceptable armament for police?

    Seriously? I can think of very few situations where your average patrol officer needs an AR, be it semi-auto or select fire. Pistols and shotguns work exceedingly well for the kind of encounters police are faced with. This holds doubly true in a urban setting like DC. What, they’re gonna take 200 yard shots at perps fleeing down the Mall? Please.

    For a smart ass answer, the cops should be less well armed than I am. The state and its minions should always be aware that the citizenry has the means to crush them utterly.

  49. “Next time your (sic) in trouble call a hippie.”

    They’d probably respond quicker than most cops, I imagine.

  50. They’d probably respond quicker than most cops, I imagine.

    Well it does take awhile to deal with people doing stupid things and then mad for being caught doing stupid things.

  51. Well it does take awhile to deal with people doing stupid things and then mad for being caught doing stupid things.

    Most truly stupid behavior is self limiting in that the moron in question kills himself. Very little police involvement is needed for this.

  52. “Pistols and shotguns work exceedingly well for the kind of encounters police are faced with.”

    You mean the kind encountered in the North Hollywood bank robbery – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

    Some of you need to pull on your ears until you hear a loud pop.

  53. You mean the kind encountered in the North Hollywood bank robbery –

    If one more of you goddamned police apologists pulls out North Hollywood to make some kind of a point, I will scream.

    Listen carefully: that scenario has occurred exactly once, to date. It is what we call a statistical outlier. If you are planning what the average patrol officer needs based on one incident, you’re an idiot. You should also plan what patrol officers needs to deal with plague infected felons and asteroid strikes, both of which are about as likely.

    Secondly, an AR-15 won’t penetrate body armor either, unless you expect your poorly trained officers who qualify once or twice a year at the range to be taking head shots. So now you have officers using rifles to miss the guy with body armor. I hope I’m not anywhere near the clusterfuck when Barney Fife and the rest of LAPD try to lay down suppressive fire. Collateral damage ahoy! I hope your PD can afford the lawsuits.

    Finally, as I have pointed out before, buckshot to the legs is far easier in terms of marksmanship, will incapacitate the subject rapidly, and has a lot less chance of collateral damage if you miss. But then the cops don’t get rifles to scare the ignorant with.

    The police response to unlikely events is also hampered by the real issue that most cops will not be involved in a shootout, and so don’t train for it very often. Cops spend far more time on sexual harassment training and how not to get the department sued then they do on tactical training.

    Now crawl back under your rock.

  54. Good answer…………good answer……I like the way you think.

  55. Wasn’t the M-16 considered a frequently jamming POS back in Vietnam? If so, then maybe issuing them to Officer Barbrady & Co. is a blessing disguise…

  56. “Move along please, or I will taser you.”

    We have a winner!!one1!!

    “I am curious… what would you folks deem acceptable armament for police? Flintlocks?”

    I think our LEOs should use the “Barney Fife ammunition management system”, where the jackboot has to access his shirt pocket for his single bullet to use on the criminal.

  57. The “Niedermier ammunition management system” would work in a similar fashion except the LEO is armed with a Springfield 1903 bolt action rifle.

  58. While I’m out from under my rock, I’d like to ask if you, T, read any of the other articles at the bottom of the Wikipedia North Hollywood article? No? Well, it seems like that scenario has occurred more than once.

    I’m not a police apologist. I think they have way too much power but really, how many of them have to die to satisfy your rather elitist sensibilites?

    This is, as usual for “Hit & Run”, a tempest in a teapot. It isn’t as if the DC cops are going to be out carrying the AR-15 on the street at all times, looking for someone to blast. They’re going to be in the car, like the shotguns are now. I’ll bet this same arguments came up when they were being put in patrol cars. The cops where I live have had these assault weapons for years and, to the best of my knowledge, have never shot anyone with them. So I guess there’s no need to panic.

    But thanks for not listening and responding reasonably. It’s easy to talk crap from behind a keyboard an interminate distance away from the person you are insulting.

    This is why libertarians will never be more than fringe participants – too self-centered to listen.

  59. I. Ron Nies

    Good response. I’m sure the cops in that shootout North Hollywood shootout felt it was worth not having rifles because it would have upset the cop haters who would still hate them anyway.

  60. Well, it seems like that scenario has occurred more than once.

    Ahhh, yeah. That would be three shootouts in 28 years. Two of which occurred when the standard issue sidearm was a .38 revolver. Still an exception, not the rule. All three occurred in areas where SWAT teams were in existence and the most notorious of the bunch, the North Hollywood robbery, the SWAT team was not called until after a prolonged shootout had ensued resulting in the injury of multiple civilians. More egregious is the fact that the officers who witnessed the robbers entering the bank made note of the automatic rifles they were carrying and opted to tackle them without SWAT reenforcement thereby prolonging the shootout and the danger to bystanders.

    Basing a policy on the stupidity and poor judgment of a pair of officers 3000 miles away is not what I would call sound.

    I’m not a police apologist. I think they have way too much power…

    So giving them more power somehow corrects this? You sir are either a liar or stupid, neither bodes well for you.

    The cops where I live have had these assault weapons for years and, to the best of my knowledge, have never shot anyone with them. So I guess there’s no need to panic.

    Your local police are equipped with long range semiautomatic rifles but have never actually had to use them and this is evidence that they both need and can be trusted with them.
    I find this interesting. By the same token your local police force should also be equipped with hand grenades and RPGs since who knows when they may need them, right?

    Additionally, we are not talking about your local cops unless you live in DC, where, as has been pointed out above, a truly law abiding citizen can’t carry and by extension reasonably protect themselves with a gun of any stripe.

    When the citizens of DC can legally own the same firearms of those corrupt police officers sworn to “protect” them, then perhaps your arguments will be valid. Until then, you are indeed an apologist who would give the police power to control the citizenry rather than the power to help it.
    As far as I am concerned, if the average Citizen can’t carry a handgun, semi-automatic rifle or shotgun for personal protection then the paid citizens(police) can’t carry one either. Or is that just too “self-centered” for you to understand.

  61. This entire post is chock full of ignorance and hysteria. I’ll also point that that “T” has absolutely no clue what he is talking about.

    These are not “assault rifles”, nor are they machine guns, nor exceptionally long range or powerful. The AR-15 is a regular run-of-the-mill self loading rifle that fires a round that, in power, is meant to bridge the gap between pistol rounds and full size rifle rounds.

    It is typical these days for departments to ditch shotguns in the patrol cars in favor of AR-15’s; this is because the AR-15 is by far the safer choice.

    The AR’s are safer because they are far more accurate, easier to use (especially for smaller officers), and FAR safer in an urban setting than pistols or shotguns, all of which will have more over-penetration in building materials. (yes, you read that right – don’t argue with me, it’s true, and it’s one reason SWAT teams are ditching submachineguns for AR-15 type weapons)

    At typical law enforcement ranges (100 yards is a long, long way and rare in any sort of police shooting), the AR-15 is near idiot-proof in terms of putting rounds on target. Despite stopping readily in building materials, the 5.56mm round will penetrate all soft body armor with ease. It is much easier to train someone to use an AR effectively than a 12 guage shotgun, not to mention the shotgun is limited to 25 yards with buckshot and most are not equipped to accurately shoot slugs.

    There have been a number of stories similar to this one lately, and they all spawn similar comments despite the fact that it’s been common for years. Carrying a rifle of this type in the patrol car is basic common sense; this is a subject where the couch commandos, soccer moms, yuppies, and other assorted clueless types should probably sit down, shut up, and let the adults do their job.

  62. Radley sez:

    D.C. Police Chief Kathy Lanier rehires 17 police officers previously fired for misconduct.

    Boy, that Kathy Lanier must be a real dolt, eh? I can’t wait to read the linked story to see what might have possessed her to do such a crazy thing. Oh, here it is:

    The department has struggled for decades to meet disciplinary deadlines and promised the public and D.C. Council years ago that improvements would be made. But in the most recent cases, police officials once again violated timetables in internal affairs cases. As a result, the firings were overruled by judges in D.C. Superior Court or by arbitrators ruling for the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board.

    Oh, I see. Lanier didn’t really want to re-hire the officers, but was forced to do so by her own incompetence. Right? Err… not quite:

    Lanier, who took over the department in December 2006, said that the slip-ups predated her administration and that she had no choice but to bring the officers back — almost always with full back pay, benefits and seniority.

    Oops.

    As for the bit about semiautomatic weapons, I’m inclined to give Radley the benefit of the doubt and assume he was trying to make an ironic point about the hysterical rhetoric of the anti-gunners, and not a serious one about the police. Surely no one writing for Reason can recycle all the crazy arguments used to promote the “assault” weapons ban … and be serious?!

  63. Surely no one writing for Reason can recycle all the crazy arguments used to promote the “assault” weapons ban … and be serious?!

    You mean like the canard that criminals these days are increasingly armed with high-powered weapons?

    They aren’t, of course. The NIJ study that came out just before the assault weapons ban expired showed that high-power, high-caliber weapons are almost never used in gun crimes.

    Conservatives were quick to embrace that study when we were debating gun control (and good for them). They seem to forget it when we’re debating arming cops to the teeth.

    Your (and Patterico’s) criticism on Lanier is predictably lame. I noted the two stories because they touch on two issues I write about regularly — how hard it is to get rid of bad cops, and the increasing militarizaiton of domestic police departments. It wasn’t a personal attack on Lanier, who hasn’t been on the job long enough for me to have an opinion of her. Nor was it inaccurate.

    It is notable that while Lanier blames the missed deadlines on subordinates left over from Chief Ramsay’s administration, she has yet to discipline, fire, or transfer them. She was first aware of the problem last October.

  64. In an era when other police forces around the country have real (select-fire) assault rifles, I don’t see adding a few civilian (semiauto only) AR-15s to this one as “arming the cops to the teeth.” If I did, I’d focus on the relevant fact that they are long guns, not the irrelevant fact that they are “semiautomatic weapons,” a meaningless fact that is true of most modern firearms and nearly all service handguns currently carried by cops on the beat. By dressing it up in the rhetoric you did, you adopted all the same phony arguments the gun-banners employed in 1994, and applied it to the cops. Overblown anti-gun hysteria is overblown anti-gun hysteria, no matter who you’re trying to disarm.

    It wasn’t a personal attack on Lanier, who hasn’t been on the job long enough for me to have an opinion of her. Nor was it inaccurate.

    It was technically true but extremely misleading. No reasonable reader can read “Kathy Lanier did X, Kathy Lanier decides to do Y, boy, aren’t those two wonderful ideas!” as anything short of a representation that both ideas were hers. If indeed Lanier has been lax about going after those actually responsible for the bungling that necessitated the re-hiring of the officers in question, that’s a separate issue. Go after her for that, by all means, but don’t use the fact that she committed one error as excuse for falsely implying she committed another.

    If you truly did not intend the article as a personal smear on Lanier, and you really can’t see the error in employing Brady-logic on anyone (including the cops), you could have written this:

    D.C. was recently ordered to rehire 17 police officers previously fired for misconduct.

    Then the city decided to arm them with the same pesky semiautomatic rifles the Brady Center doesn’t think you should be to own.

    Sounds like a fantastic couple of ideas. What could possibly go wrong?

    That would have made exactly the same point, without falsely implying an innocent party was to blame. So why not say that instead?

  65. On second thought, why engage in a fruitless debate over what a reasonable reader would have thought upon reading this post, when it’s so much easier to ask your readers what they actually did think? Did anyone read this post (but not my comment, Patterico’s or the linked WaPo article) and come away with idea that Lanier was blameless in the decision to re-hire the 17 cops in question? Anyone? Bueller?

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