Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Dangerous People and Deadly Force

The priority for government agencies is to push the development of safer, more reliable and more effective weapons that can spare law enforcement agents awful choices.

TaserJunglecat / Wikimedia CommonsWhen a man jumped over the White House fence, ran across the lawn and entered the residence, the Secret Service failed and failed again. One of the most conspicuous and surprising failures was that though it had armed agents on the ground and snipers on the roof, no one fired a shot to stop him.

In fact, the agency bragged about not using their guns, saying that "the officers showed tremendous restraint and discipline in dealing with this subject." The agents didn't shoot Omar Gonzalez because they "apparently concluded that he was not armed and did not appear to be carrying anything that might contain explosives," reported The New York Times.

Lucky guess. As it turned out, he was carrying a folding knife with a 3 1/2-inch blade, which could have been put to deadly use. But agents were able to subdue him without bloodshed. A man reported to be mentally ill didn't hurt anyone and wasn't killed unnecessarily.

All's well that ends well? Hardly. The idea that security officers would let a running intruder pass, based on the instant and highly fallible judgment that he was unarmed, suggests an excess of caution. "Tremendous restraint is not what we're looking for," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. "The message should be overwhelming force."

But that's not quite the right answer, either. Just this year, six people have scaled the fence—and no one would commend the Secret Service if all six had been riddled immediately with bullets. Gonzalez might have been stopped by attack dogs, which for some reason were not unleashed. It would be unfortunate to kill someone whose mental illness drove him to do something terribly stupid.

The problem lies in the limited nature of the agency's options: shoot the trespasser or hold off in the hope that he is unarmed and can be captured alive. What the Secret Service needs is something every law enforcement agency needs: weapons that can incapacitate threatening suspects without inflicting deadly wounds.

The need arises all the time. A few days after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a 25-year-old St. Louis man named Kajieme Powell, carrying a knife in his hand, was approached by cops. He walked toward them, yelling, "Shoot me! Kill me now!" They did exactly that, to the outrage of some who saw the video.

Law enforcement officers in situations like these face a terrible dilemma: kill someone who may be harmless or risk being killed. Small wonder the cops shot Powell rather than wait to see whether he would actually try to stab them. Small wonder the Secret Service agents couldn't bring themselves to fire. In these cases, either decision can have fatal consequences, and it has to be made quickly.

That's why police need to make more use of nonlethal methods—and, even more important, need additional nonlethal methods that defuse dangers. Right now, about the only reasonable option is a "conducted energy device" or stun gun, the best known being the Taser. These weapons, however, are less certain than guns to stop a potential attacker and have a shorter range.

Tasers have a mixed reputation. Some suspects have died after being hit. The devices are also sometimes abused. Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans was recently indicted for, among other things, allegedly holding a Taser to a suspect's crotch.

But guns can also be abused: Evans is accused of shoving the barrel of his service weapon into the suspect's mouth and threatening to kill him. Research generally indicates that Tasers rarely cause death.

In practice, they are more likely to benefit those who get crosswise with cops. A 2007 study published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine concluded that the devices were used in many situations where lethal force was warranted, saving some 1,100 lives over six years. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health found injuries to both police and suspects decline when cops make greater use of Tasers.

The priority for government agencies is to push the development of safer, more reliable and more effective weapons that can spare law enforcement agents awful choices. Gonzalez was allowed to enter the White House, and Powell was shot to death. We need methods that would stop both and save both.

Photo Credit: Junglecat / Wikimedia Commons

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Rich||

    "apparently concluded that he was not armed and did not appear to be carrying anything that might contain explosives,"

    like shoes, underwear, or toothpaste.

  • anon||

    Yeah, they don't shoot someone trespassing on the fucking white house lawn, yet I can't carry on goddamn toothpaste.

    What. The. Fuck.

  • WTF||

    Don't they have guard dogs? It's not like someone can outrun a German Shepherd.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Speak for yourself.

    *stretches hamstrings*

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yes, yes. We all know you're Manimal.

    You don't have to mention it Every. Fucking. Post.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I scored 4 touchdowns in 1 game.

  • SugarFree||

    What game were you playing?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Checkers. Against my kid.

  • Riven||

    How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains?

  • This Machine Kills Bass Licks||

    +1 steak

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    I scored 4 touchdowns in 1 game.


    Was that before or after fucking Morgan Fairchild?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    No, I banged Katey Sagal

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    +1 Peg Bundy

  • toolkien||

    From the department of mental-association-every-damn-time, every time I see Katey Sagal I immediately remember her dad was Boris Sagal, who directed The Omega Man (2nd attempt at I Am Legend), which scared the shit of my seven year old self the first time I saw it, and Matthias and the Family haunt my dreams even at 46.

    She's got big tits though...

  • Raven Nation||

    Chapman does address that.

  • anon||

    I have a lot of different problems with this article, but will only name a few.
    1: If you trespass on any property, you really ought to expect to be shot. Granted, the White House is paid for with our tax dollars, but I don't believe anyone could reasonably expect access to said property at any given time. There are arguments to be made for/against access, but definitely not reasonable currently.

    2: It's not my responsibility to ensure a trespasser's safety, and it shouldn't be the CIA's either.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You'd better not shoot someone just for trespassing. That can easily get you a murder charge. In most places, lethal force requires something more than mere trespass. Except on the White House lawn, where you can be gunned down at will. If they feel like it.

  • anon||

    In most places, lethal force requires something more than mere trespass.

    Yes; in NC, the belief that you're facing an imminent threat to person or property.

    I realize it could be assumed that I'm talking about gunning down a dude for walking across my lawn; I am not. However, jumping a fence and running straight towards a potential high value target would qualify (under NC law at least) as justified use of deadly force against the intruder.

    Also of note, in NC it's legal to shoot someone through your door that's trying to break in, but once they're in they must have some type of weapon brandished for you to shoot them. The reasoning is that if you can't see the person, you must assume the intruder intends to cause immediate harm to yourself or family, but once he's in and appears unarmed, he can pretty much rob you blind while you stand there with your gun pointed at him.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sure, it doesn't take that much to justify lethal force if the trespasser is acting like he might be there to commit violence against somebody. And that might, in fact, be a plausible view of this guy's rush to the White House.

  • anon||

    And that might, in fact, be a plausible view of this guy's rush to the White House.

    Yeah, and merely the presence of such distinguished security measures would lead one to conclude such as the only explanation; I do see a conundrum.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    However, jumping a fence and running straight towards a potential high value target

    No member of the First Family was in the WH at the time. What "high value target" would this guy have been running toward?

    I think not shooting him was the right thing to do, actually. Now, leaving the doors unlocked, having SS agents who can't win a fistfight, etc., having the dogs locked up - those are failures.

    Not gunning some guy down because he's on the First Lawn? Not a failure.

  • Careless||

    "having SS agents who can't win a fistfight...those are failures"

    No, that's progress!

  • Catatafish||

    A couple of pounds of Semtex in a harness under the shirt would do a hell of a lot of damage. The dude didn't know the president and first family were gone. If his intent (and I honestly don't know how even the Secret Service could detect the absence of a relatively small but still lethal amount of explosives) was to bomb the WH, quite a few SS personnel and WH staff could've been killed.

    Overall I'm fully in favor of greater use of less-than-lethal options. Whether or not this was a prime candidate for their use based on the nature of the "target" is a trickier question though.

  • Random||

    Your information is out of date:

    "... in NC it's legal to shoot someone through your door that's trying to break in, but once they're in they must have some type of weapon brandished for you to shoot them"

    This was changed about 3 years ago.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    You are mistaken about NC law.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    Not for you random, and I need start reading further down.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    Me no think good.

  • Raven Nation||

    Except on the White House lawn, where you can be gunned down at will. If they feel like it.

    Or driving into its crash barriers as I recall:

    http://tinyurl.com/mbqfn2l

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or flying a small plane on to the lawn, or firing automatic weapons at the building.

  • tarran||

    I think that incident demonstrates the danger of the cops being allowed to operate with laxer standards.

    In that case, the woman was shot by police who were convinced that she had injured a police officer; they had heard calls of "officer down" on their radio.

    In reality the woman hadn't injured anyone. The cop that was injured was the victim of having a crash barrier raised right in front of him as he raced down the road. In effect, he was seriously injured in a car accident caused by everyone going to Defcon 1. And, each actor in the chain of miscommunications can justify what they did as being a reasonable response. And because in the end nobody was held responsible or punished, a situation that really didn't warrant deadly force resulted in deadly force being used, and the people who did shoot the guns being rewarded.

    Contrast that with Michael Dunn going to jail for colossally misinterpreting the danger he faced. People in his situation will think twice before opening fire on a "threatening" car. The police, no so much.

  • Hello Titty||

    "they had heard calls of "officer down""

    What happens when the cop's last name is Down? One would suspect it might cause some confusion.

  • ||

    Det. Down is currently assisting unit 3 and don't broadcast names over the open channel dipshit!

  • marshaul||

    You'd better not shoot someone just for trespassing. That can easily get you a murder charge. In most places, lethal force requires something more than mere trespass. Except on the White House lawn, where you can be gunned down at will. If they feel like it.

    Nailed it.

    Although, I do have a problem with this article insofar as I'm pretty sure the Secret Service has a better idea what they're doing than, at least, anyone else working for government, and I therefore see no reason to take them to task for having restraint, and not using weapons (however "less" lethal) when they obviously weren't necessary.

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    If they break into your house, it's pretty much carte Blanche to shoot

    However, mere Trespass such as on somebody's lawn is a pretty minor crime both under my states criminal statutes and under the model penal code

    In many cases it's not even arrestable or even when it is as a matter of policy we will almost always give a person a warning and a chance to leave before any arrest or a charge would occur

    Tresspass details are extremely common in patrol and I'm certain I have responded to probably a few hundred. Assuming that person is still there when we get there a small percentage result in arrest another relatively small percentage result in a criminal citation and most just result in a verbal warning or something like that

    Many warning trespasses result in official notice being given such that if the person returns then it will be arrest

    It is not your responsibility to ensure a trespassers safety but if you think you can use deadly force for trespassing you are gonna get in some serious trouble

    Again I am talking trespassing not breaking into a residence or something like that which of course generally justifies deadly force

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    I have responded to several trespassing incidents where the property owner forcefully held trespasser on the scene prior to our arrival and that's perfectly fine

    You can just like the police use reasonable force when dealing with a trespasser but just recognise that reasonable force means stuff like Empty hand control or wristy twisties unless the guy starts to get violent with you

    You cannot even use deadly force if the guy is trespassing and stealing your car so certainly not if he's just trespassing

  • Hello Titty||

    Are you a for real police officer? Wow!

  • Restoras||

    He benches 350 and bangs Morgan Fairchild too.

  • Hello Titty||

    I doubt that.

  • Restoras||

    No it's true! And a moose bit his sister once too!

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Curse you Restoras.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    And he fucked Morgan Fairchild.

  • Restoras||

    HAHA!

  • ||

    He's a hero. Really !

    He told us so himself.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I have responded to several trespassing incidents where the property owner forcefully held trespasser on the scene prior to our arrival and that's perfectly fine

    If the owner is forcably preventing you from leaving, in what sense are you trespassing?

  • ||

    *Trespassing? No.

    Breaking and entering? Yes.

    I don't think its justifiable to shoot someone simply because he hopped my fence.

    Not that he's not going to get to see the gun, just that he's got to do something more threatening.

  • anon||

    I don't think its justifiable to shoot someone simply because he hopped my fence.

    If I know that there's a significant population of people (at least a million) that want to kill me, then I see that as justifiable.

  • ||

    Or, you know, stop doing things that get a million people pissed off at you personally.

    Like droning Pakistani weddings.

  • Careless||

    Or being an atheist?

  • See.More||

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Hmm. He wasn't armed, but he did overpower a female agent who was armed.

    Even so, I never thought I'd read a Reason article complaining that a trespasser wasn't shot by the police. It's too early to drink.

  • Zeb||

    It's not really a Reason article. Everyone already hates Chapman.

  • Swiss Servator, Grundgesetz!||

    Correct and correct.

  • ||

    +1 Closure.

  • tarran||

    This article is predicated on a very dangerous assumption, that the police have weapons to ensure compliance.

    The reason why police were allowed weapons is to defend themselves. Period. They are supposed to have no more right to tase people or shoot people than I do.

    If Steve Chapman were calling for industry to produce non-lethal weapons for everyone, including cops, to use for the defense of their property and persons, then this article wouldn't bother me so much.

    Rather, he is advocating that the police be given a new tool to force people to obey them. And the less dangerous a weapon is, the less the penalty is. Judging by the laughably low penalty cops face for shooting people, even murdering them, the penalties for using a Star Trek stunner inappropriately will be the equivalent of fining a cop $20.

    It's a shame to see the mentality that cops are special snowflakes that are the only ones trusted with weaponry have such acceptance. Feudalism with shock batons is less deadly for the peasants, but it is still feudalism.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I agree completely. Where this all went horribly wrong was in treating cops as anything other than armed citizens. When a cop shoots someone, however justified, he should have to go through the same shit a common citizen would for using lethal force.

  • DesigNate||

    Why do you want to take their civil rights away ProL? WHY?!!!?!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Very well, give non-government-employee citizens the exact same rights as cops.

  • DesigNate||

    But then some animals won't be more equal than others.

  • ||

    How many other homes were invaded in DC on the same day? Why should this one affect my life any more than the others? I'd really like to see anyone in the media ask these questions.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm a little surprised at the universal outcry about this minor incident. It shows that the security set up isn't oozing with competence, but what in the government is? Nothing really happened, and now they know they have some issues to deal with. Story over.

  • ||

    Security always degrades with time. You can set things up to be super secure and you are all ready for intruders. However, after no real threats appear, you start to get lax about the setup. If you keep that side door locked it means that you have to walk all the way around to the front to get to the bathroom. Why not just keep it unlocked? Saves everyone time and hassle.

    What this really demonstrates is that the security threat to the president isn't as great as the pants shitters would have us believe.

  • tarran||

    Dude! IF the terrorist threat was as bad as the govt makes out, there would be a lot more mayhem.

    For example, I could pack ball bearings and c4 in a bank of thermos bottles that I then put in a large suitcase, and detonate it in the security line at Chicago O'Hare on the night before thanksgiving. I think I would have a 75% chance of pulling it off successfully, and I think I would kill about 150 - 200 people, easy.

    I know of only two attempts to blow up bombs like that, the Times Square bombing (failure) and the Boston Marathon bombing (successful). Both groups had little support and were more or less operating as lone wolves. If things were as dangerous as they say, it would be like Turkey when I was a kid, with at least one deadly terrorist act every week. BTW, none of them were suicide bombings, interestingly enough.

  • Hello Titty||

    " BTW, none of them were suicide bombings, interestingly enough."

    Johnny Turk isn't stupid.

  • This Machine Kills Bass Licks||

    For example, I could pack ball bearings and c4 in a bank of thermos bottles that I then put in a large suitcase, and detonate it in the security line at Chicago O'Hare on the night before thanksgiving. I think I would have a 75% chance of pulling it off successfully, and I think I would kill about 150 - 200 people, easy.

  • This Machine Kills Bass Licks||

    For example, I could pack ball bearings and c4 in a bank of thermos bottles that I then put in a large suitcase, and detonate it in the security line at Chicago O'Hare on the night before thanksgiving. I think I would have a 75% chance of pulling it off successfully, and I think I would kill about 150 - 200 people, easy.

    Hello! The NSA's Online-Based Threat Early Warning System has flagged you as a LEVEL 1: SERIOUS POTENTIAL THREAT. Law enforcement professionals will soon be arriving at your listed place of residence. Please do not resist, as it will make your summary execution swift and efficient. You are also advised to leave your pets restrained in plain view, so that their executions may go swiftly and smoothly as well. Thank you for your compliance.

  • ||

    Its a good thing I don't update my address with the DMV within 10 days of moving, as required by law.

  • Zeb||

    I've often had the same thought. If there were a dedicated group of terrorists with the desire to do major bombings in the US, we would see a lot more bombings. It really wouldn't be that hard to pull off.

  • Hello Titty||

    "It shows that the security set up isn't oozing with competence, but what in the government is?"

    The beauty of this is that I am hearing people say that if the Secret Service is just as incompetent as the rest of the federal government, then what hope is there?

  • ||

    When a man jumped over the White House fence, ran across the lawn and entered the residence, the Secret Service failed and failed again

    Or, you know, we could give them credit for holding off lethal force until they were *certain* then man was a lethal threat. Instead of shooting him because 'Fuck you, that's why'.

  • ||

    I am completely confused about the outcry around this incident. The fucking security *worked* - AND the suspect was apprehended with minimal damage.

    For all the shit the SS (deservedly) gets, they show a lot more professionalism and restraint than the local cop responding to a guy shoplifting from a convenience store.

  • Pro Libertate||

    One of the weirdest moments for me when I worked in DC was discovering that there are uniformed Secret Service personnel.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    So they're just "Service Agents"?

  • Pro Libertate||

    They had them at the entrance to the NEOB, where I worked (across from the OEOB and White House). They were "Secret" Service who looked and were dressed like cops.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    Playa, I believe the appropriate term is "jumped up mall cops."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, but they really are Secret Service, so they can pick up girls with that line and flash their badges. Well, pick up prostitutes, anyway.

  • Catatafish||

    That's in Columbia, not the District of.

  • ||

    Met three in an elevator in Tampa the other week. My coworker had the room just across from them in the hotel. Apparently, they paid their escorts and kept the noise down as he had nothing interesting to report.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tampa prostitutes are much more professional than those in South America. It's a point of pride here.

  • Restoras||

    *checking corporate convention calendar for next trip to Tampa...*

  • ||

    Do. My Tampa coworkers were shocked and dismayed to discover that I believed Houston had more strip joints per capita than Tampa. I haven't yet convinced them to pay for a night to prove me wrong, but they considered it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's impossible. Tampa is saturated with strip clubs. It's impossible to have them denser than we do here. They have churches with strippers in the Bay Area, you know.

  • Bean Counter||

    "They have churches with strippers in the Bay Area, you know."

    They're still not getting 10 percent of my money. A tip for a lap dance, maybe.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Lap tithing?

  • UnCivilServant||

    In the end he was stopped, but in the interim, they blundered around like the Keystone Cops.

    Though I won't fault them for not killing people.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't understand. The guy should never have made it into the building, let alone *gasp* running past the stairs that lead to the king's living quarters.

    He should have had his head literally blown off by a sniper the second his feet touched the ground after hopping the fence.

    Or better yet blown to bits after stepping on a mine.

    This is the king we're talking about!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Little-known fact: If someone can get past security and touch the president, he's "It" and legally becomes president.

  • From the Tundra||

    Actually, that makes far more sense than what we do now.

  • Raven Nation||

    *applause*

  • ||

    Please tell me that there are no "do backs".

  • Catatafish||

    This made my day.

  • ||

    Yeah, this is one of those absurd, purely political moments where the SS did everything right--they didn't kill the guy, they stopped the incursion with minimal force--and it's being turned into a scandal instead of praise.

    Think about that. The SS did this the right way, and the entire agency is being raked over the coals for it in a bipartisan manner. So what's their incentive now? The next person who hops that fence--let's say it's some prankster kids next time--is going to get killed instantly, or if Chapman has his way, will be tased or beanbag shotgun shot or whatever.

    The calm, rational response is being exploited and vilified for a cheap, tiny amount of political gain. Aren't politics grand?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Good point. Next time, they'll blow the fucker away, burn the corpse, and launch it into orbit. No way to treat the president's brother, but security must come first.

  • Catatafish||

    I think they blundered into the right outcome.

  • Raven Nation||

    Plus, the administration lied about it for a number of weeks. Not that that should be cause for surprise either.

  • Homple||

    If the Secret Service had blown Gonzales away would Reason have turned it into another "government agents kill another mentally ill guy who was really harmless" story?

  • ||

    Do you have a fucking point or are you just being as retarded as usual?

  • DesigNate||

    In the context of this ridiculous Chapman article, I would say the reverse scenario he posits would be pretty likely.

    But maybe I'm just exhausted and my brain no work so good.

  • Homple||

    Perhaps you missed the point. More than likely you dislike its implications and respond with typical knee jerk nastiness.

  • Barnstormer||

    Categorically, yes.

  • Bean Counter||

    "A man reported to be mentally ill didn't hurt anyone and wasn't killed unnecessarily."

    What the Hell kind of cops do they have in the Secret Service? Send them to Ferguson for training. Killing mentally ill people unnecessarily is what real cops do for fun!

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    It's nice to see somebody like tartan who can fill a post with so much falsehood illogic and ignorance.

    Props to him

    In the real world as a general rule of course he is totally wrong since plenty of private actors use tools just like cops to gain compliance

    A friend of mine a former US marshal Owns a bail bond agency and of course the bail recovery agents a.k.a. Bounty hunters use tasers, batons etc just like the police and for similar reasons

    Tarran basically ludicrously thinks that tools for compliance are limited to the police

    We have plenty of private security guards who guard properties in our jurisdiction some have guns some guns and tasers some guns tasers pepper spray etc

    I have responded to incidents where repo guys have used pepper spray and in one case a baton and I responded to cases where bail recovery agents have used various different tools etc and it's all groovy

    Of course again this is the real world not his fantasy world

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    In my perfect world cops would be much better trained in self defence, have to meet much higher physical strength fitness etc requirements but even then tools absolutely are and should be a part of a toolbox to gain compliance to assist in arrests for self defence etc

    I've carried a taser for about a decade and haven't fired it once that is being far more restrained than most of my co-workers, but have used it many times to gain compliance and the reality is if you justified in doing so and you draw your taser to get the person to comply or he is going to get teased it is a wonderfully effective tool.

    Again I've gained compliance with it for resistant subjects at least two or three dozen times without ever having to fire it which is the beauty of it especially when you have violent offenders who have been tasted before and definitely don't want to go through it again

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    As the statistics I have provided show, cops use force extremely rarely and deadly force astronomically rarely

    And as review shows in the overwhelming majority of cases they use it in a justified manner and thanks to body cameras because they are helping cops PROVE the justification of force and of course in rare instances helping cops WHO WERE WRONG get punished

    I will continue to post body cam videos that show cops with cameras doing an awesome job in restrained use of force and these cases are awesome. Usually it's much easier to rebut bogus claims of force and even in some cases get the false complainers convicted of crimes related to false complaints or just being caught on the body Camera resisting or whatnot

    Properly trained properly monitored and of course body cameras should be my mandatory, tasers batons pepper spray etc help cops bring offenders to justice protect themselves keep the streets safe and stop inchoate crimes

    They are safe and effective contrary to the claims of the bigots

  • Jordan||

    And as review shows in the overwhelming majority of cases they use it in a justified manner

    Because the reviews are conducted by fellow cops. There is no use of force they would not find justified.

  • ||

    I don't think that lack of physical strength is most cop's biggest problem considering how well armed most are.

    It seems to be mental strenght where most of them come up short.

    I have absolutely no problem with most of the cops in my local LE. One is even a good buddy and I take him on my boat fishing regularly.

    But about 20% or so need to be taken out back and shot in the head.

  • ||

    None of those uses are for *compliance*.

    Repo man doesn't get to pepper spray you just because you won't get out of the way.

    Security guard doesn't get to taser you because you won't put out the cigarette or move to the 'smoking area'.

    On;y cops get to taser you for not obeying their commands - whether lawful or not.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDJkhBgU6vc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c0Y3H2g51g

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLLiHY2cJ8I

  • Pro Libertate||

    A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations.

  • sarcasmic||

    And he manages to get out of them without bludgeoning anyone who fails to obey him. Imagine that.

  • From the Tundra||

    Look at those assholes, ordinary fucking people. I hate 'em.

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    Word. Again the ignorant speaks as above. Repo men, security guards , bail recovery agents, private investigators etc can and do sometimes use tools for compliance and that's not some moron speaking above who has never seen any force outside his mother's basement

    In The real world where rule of law civil rights due process etc apply a cop does have and should have the authority to get compliance for various things.

    The system cannot and does not work without that and that holds true in every nation on earth not just here

    Prior to these tools it was generally more difficult to gain compliance and Cops pretty much just had to go hands-on and wrestle etc where in many cases the cop and/or suspect are more likely to get injured

    And in the case of a 5 foot tall woman cop who is not a straw weight MMA fighter and a 280 lb suspect with a boxing background, you can see the obvious charm of the time that in many cases may save a life since they allow the officer to get control with the lower-level force versus having to resort to a gun

    We have a staggeringly low rate of using deadly force and it is so often the case that deadly force is necessary when low levels of force fail to work

  • Pro Libertate||

    Plate o' shrimp.

  • From the Tundra||

    Yeah. Let's go get sushi and not pay.

  • ||

    And in the case of a 5 foot tall woman cop who is not a straw weight MMA fighter and a 280 lb suspect with a boxing background. . .

    Hmm, if that scenario comes up often (which I doubt) then maybe you should reconsider your hiring standards.

  • Andrew S.||

    Other posters: Present evidence
    Dunphy: "NUH UH!" ::proceeds to talk about something completely different::

  • ||

    Dunphy - here's the problem, and why you're not going to ever get us to see things your way.

    You believe that a police (and police department) who kills someone should only suffer consequences when it can be proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the cop *maliciously* killed someone. Accidents, poor training, 'I thought he had . . .', or there's no witnesses except the officer and the dead guy - those are all reasons to drop the subject.

    *We* believe that police are accountable to the public they serve and *they* need to justify every single death. And accident, poor training, 'I though he had . . .' - none of those are justification enough.

    We're approaching this with two completely opposed axioms. There's no common ground here.

  • ||

    There's no common ground here.

    I'd say I'm reminded of Patton's realization that he was an anachronistic prima donna, but dunphy isn't a warrior and doesn't realize it.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    Repo men, security guards , bail recovery agents, private investigators etc can and do sometimes use tools for compliance

    For pure compliance?

    You're not doing what I told you to do, so I am legally entitled to beat/shock/shoot you? I'm pretty sure that's bullshit.

    Even if its not, I'm 100% positive that they don't have immunity, and don't have a system where a union grievance committee substitutes for a jury.

  • ||

    I spent 20 years in the used car business.

    I can promise you that in Texas, repo men aren't entitled to use force to gain compliance any more than an ordinary citizen.

    A cop is more likely to take his side of things out on the street and believe that he wasn't inside the guys garage when the other guy attacked first, but that isn't a court of law.

    Dunphy is just a typical power whore who couldn't make the high school football team and never got laid, hertosexually speaking.

  • sarcasmic||

    The major difference is that, unlike those who have qualified immunity, when a bail bondsman or a private security guard does something illegal, they face real consequences (A tongue lashing and taxpayer funded settlement doesn't count).

    Take that immunity away, and I bet most of what we ignorant reasonoid bigots call abuse would stop real quick.

  • DesigNate||

    The fact that you want to take that civil right away from them proves just how big a bigot you are.

    /sarc

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    Rubbish and in fact many people complain about how Broad the powers of the recovery agents are in forcefully entering homes and how many shootings they 'get away with'

    Regardless here in the real world and outside your rarefied climate of bigotry the public overwhelmingly understands that we almost always use force properly and that when we don't we are held accountable and that's why they continue to support us and you guys continue to bitch and moan

    At least we can both take solace in the fact that there is no doubt that body cameras are going to become more common and more and more mandatory and that's only going to continue to ensure that cops can rebut bogus complaints offenders can be brought to justice and bad cops can be punished

    The arc of Justice has improved over the decades and anybody with historical understanding and or memory clearly sees that cops are doing a better job now with force than in the past and body cameras will only improve that

  • From the Tundra||

    As long as you are apparently back for good:

    http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp

  • Andrew S.||

    And just like with dashcams, when the camera shows the cop was right, the video will be released quickly, but if the video shows the cop was in the wrong, it will either be "lost", "accidentally turned off", "unavailable"... or take your pick of other excuses that have been used.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm all for body cameras. I'm also all for citizens being able to record the police with their phones. I'm also all for cops losing their jobs and facing criminal charges when they illegally arrest people for failing to obey illegal orders.

    Unfortunately, as a local couple found out recently, if the cops don't want to be recorded and you fail to obey an illegal order to stop recording them, they'll illegally arrest you anyway.

    And when the officers face no consequences for illegally arresting someone for failing to obey an illegal order, they'll do it again and again and again...

  • Jordan||

    You are so full of shit. Why is that when we see a video of six meathead cops beating the shoot out of someone lying on the ground in a fetal position, no other cop steps in to arrest them for felony assault?

  • Jordan||

    shoot = shit

  • sarcasmic||

    You kidding? And miss a chance to get in a few good kicks to the head?

  • ||

    What's wrong with a tongue lashing ?

  • ||

  • ||

    Wait, Jerry Brown is going to side with State employees in a way that fucks the average Californian? When did this start?

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    CALIFORNIA UBER ALLES!!!!!!

    Apparently he's cool with the suede blue secret police taking care of your uncool niece

    That shit be fucked up!

    We so often get the government we deserve and God knows that's true with him

    What next? we resurrect Jimmy Carter?

    Sweet let's transport some hostages to Iran while we wait

  • ||

    Would you rather more Bush, Bush, and Obama.

    Carter's looking pretty good right now if he wants to try his hand at a 2016 run.

  • Catatafish||

    I seriously need to go drink half a handle of Buffalo Trace after having read that.

  • nicmart||

    Every person in American who commits an odd or disturbing crime is labelled “mentally ill.” But politicians who wade the country into bloody and useless foreign wars are the model of rationality. Leads one to suspect that “mentally ill” closely tracks power and wealth.

  • ||

    Well duh, its long been known that the rich aren't 'crazy', they're 'eccentric'.

  • The artist known Dunphy||

    Fortunately body cameras are allowing officers to prove they used tgood restraint and proper use of force in cases with non-compliant people

    You cant beat the potent combo of having tools like taser and pepper spray and having a Body Camera to properly document their use

    In this case instead of the cop suffering under a cloud of suspicion a bunch of slanderousl articles and possibly even discipline for something he did not do, we have the optimal result of the cop being cleared of any wrongdoing and the woman getting convicted of a crime where she will serve jail time after refusing a plea deal

    Without the body Camera it's doubtful we would've had such an optimal and just conclusion

    http://www.policeone.com/patro.....ffic-stop/

    One thing about this country I love is that people have a lot of common sense and that's reflected in their support of police, even in the face of media anticop hysteria

    With body cameras, WE create an alternative media

  • sarcasmic||

    What about people who refuse to comply with unlawful orders?

    Or more accurately, what about cops who believe that anything that comes out of their mouth is a lawful order?

    Well, shit. That's every cop, isn't it.

  • Zeb||

    Good, then lets get cameras on every cop out there. And if anything they do while on duty isn't recorded, let's assume that they are lying about it.

  • tarran||

    Here in MA, the cops got rid of the dashboard cameras; the recordings were contradicting too many police reports and invalidating too many prosecutions.

    It appears that cops from Massachusetts often have a problem telling the truth. That is why you should take the word of any cop from MA... ANY COP FROM MA... with a giant container of salt.

  • sarcasmic||

    I used to think that cops at least could be counted on to tell the truth when you ask them for directions, but some Boston cops proved that to be a false assumption.

  • tarran||

    Was this during the big dig?

    Because once at the height of construction, I was trying to get to the airport, and everybody was confused, even the guys at the gas station at the mouth of the Sumner Tunnel. Their laugh was both derisive and sympathetic when I asked them for directions. Then they explained that nobody had idea anymore because it was changing almost daily.

    I ended up following a cab that looked like he was going to the airport and knew what he was doing. It worked.

  • sarcasmic||

    This was 2008 when we went to see the Mars Volta play at the Orpheum Theatre. Good show. Very hot in there though.

    Eventually I found my way onto Comm Ave, and from there I was able to get back to Maine.

    I can get around Boston OK during the day since I know the landmarks well enough, but at night I'm fucked.

  • tarran||

    Oh, in that case, the Boston PD were just being their usual dickish selves.

  • DEG||

    The first time I drove in Boston was during the Big Dig while traffic was still using the elevated portion of I-93.

    I was in town for a job interview. I got to talking to the guy driving the bus that went from the airport terminal to the rental car office. He said that since I plan to move to the area, I should see a little of the area instead of the interstates. He suggested that instead of taking I-93 to I-95 to my hotel to my hotel, I should take Storrow to Memorial Drive, then get on Rte. 2, and then get on I-95 in Lexington. He didn't warn me about the Big Dig.

    It seemed like a good idea. An interstate is an interstate, and I did want to see the area I might move to.

    So I followed his directions. Somehow I ended up driving in circles in Cambridge. I thought I remembered my way back to I-93. Despite the Big Dig traffic fuck-ups, I managed to get back on I-93 and eventually find my hotel.

  • sarcasmic||

    Boston can be fun to drive in if you know where you're going or have a copilot who does.

    Otherwise it's hell.

  • DEG||

    That is why you should take the word of any cop from MA... ANY COP FROM MA... with a giant container of salt.

    Didn't dunphy claim he used to be a cop on Martha's Vineyard?

    Oh, right... I think I need a little more caffeine.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    Funny, too, how even in Ferguson, the high-profile epicenter of "holy crap, we need cameras on cops", the camera on a cop who most recently got into trouble was turned off.

    Unless there are consequences for not using the cameras or having the footage, it becomes another "heads we win, tails you lose" deal for the peasants.

  • Restoras||

    A folding knife with a 3.5" blade is now deadly scary weapon, Chapman? Really? I mean, I get it, just about anything can be used to maim and kill including any number of implements in my kitchen and closet, but the rough equivalent of a Boy Scout knife?

  • tarran||

    You'll have to pry the Swiss Army knife with the corkscrew and the fish scaling blade from my cold dead fingers, you jack-booted thugs!

  • HolgerDanske||

    Try living in various European countries where such dangerous weapons are routinely illegal to own. Along with sling shots, crossbows, baseball bats, and pit bulls.

  • Zeb||

    3.5" blade is illegal to carry in a lot of places. Which is stupid, as you point out, since there are any number of other things not generally considered weapons that could be used at least as effectively to hurt someone.

  • Restoras||

    I wonder what Chapman would think of the 6" buck knife in my closet, or the 8" carving and 10" chopping knives in my kitchen drawer - if I paint them black will they be scary assault knives? I guess the 4" paring knife is some sort of personal WMD too.

  • Zeb||

    It always amazes me when people freak out about people carrying knives. How can you not carry a knife?

  • Restoras||

    I used to carry around a Swiss Army pocket knife everywhere, including on plane flights. Incredibly useful. Don't dare do that anymore.

  • Spyrius Droid||

    I just got a set of throwing knives. Now I need to set up a board to practice throwing them at.

  • Catatafish||

    Only if you adjust the handle 90 degrees. Then it's super-duper-deadly.

  • albo||

    Trip him up with bolos. Or throw that Batarang that Batman uses.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    One of the most conspicuous and surprising failures was that though it had armed agents on the ground and snipers on the roof, no one fired a shot to stop him.

    Oh, for fuck's sake.

    Let's just execute any peasant who dares come within a half mile of His Radiant Eminence.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Your statements are contradictory? In any event, I'm surprised that most of the anti-Obama (in reality anti-Presidency) types posting on this so called Libertarian web, would not be anything but delighted, that the man they can't stand was so poorly protected, in this case.

    So perhaps your premise here, is that (if say) Rand Paul were President, any attempt like this would be horrible, and that any peasants who came within even a mile of whoever YOUR choice of "Radiant Eminence" was (Paul) should be mowed down.

  • dinkster||

    put a spike on a steering wheel and driving would be the safest mode of transportation

    the last thing law enforcement needs, even the SS, is more gadgets of repression

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    DINKSTER

    How do you figure that our law enforcement in the U.S. compares with the Nazi SS? I have encountered this type of thinking before, and usually by people who have no idea whatsoever about the powers granted to the Reich Security people under The Nazi Regime.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    How do you figure that our law enforcement in the U.S. compares with the Nazi SS?

    Well, the Nazis were more polite. When they came to arrest you at midnight, they would at least knock on the door, rather than kicking it down and throwing grenades.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Your response is an excellent example of a non-answer.

  • HolgerDanske||

    I think he meant "Secret Service"..

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Yes, but the implication is there, don't you think?

  • Kawliga||

    How about throwing a net over the perp Steve? More of the usual silliness and hand wringing from Chapman.

  • Ron||

    the problem with shooting at fence jumper at the white house is the probability of missing the jumper and killing an innocent. so why not just have armed guards at the doors at least instead of leaving the damn thing wide open. BTW locking it like they are now is not a real solution unless its a bank vault door.

  • DenverJay||

    the problem with shooting at fence jumper at the white house is the probability of missing the jumper and killing an innocent.

    Um, no. The problem with shooting at the fence jumper is that you are using deadly force when none is warranted. Violence, and especially deadly force, are only justified when there is no other choice, either to defend yourself or another. Jumping a fence is not, by itself, an act of aggression that justifies summary execution by the State.
    As it turned out, there was plenty of time and other methods to stop this man before he was a credible threat to anyone.
    Perhaps he could have been a threat if he had been strapped with explosives, but that threat would not have been very high until actually inside the building. Just because the staff at the White House is too damned lazy to lock the door does not justify bullets flying the second some poor soul's soles hit the hallowed ground of the home of the High Priest of Mars.
    This attitude shows exactly why our policy of foreign adventure is so dangerous; by becoming a military empire, we are forgetting the proper relationship between the military, law enforcement, the State in general, and the supposed supremacy of the Citizen over government.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    the problem with shooting at fence jumper at the white house is the probability of missing the jumper and killing an innocent.

    That's not a problem for the SS. The jumper will take the fall for felony murder of the dead bystander, after all.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online