The essence of peace and tranquility maintained in any nation-state community is almost entirely dependent upon the means for ensuring that the rules of civil order are obeyed by the citizens of that community in accordance with the laws legislated by the elected representatives of the population’s electorate. Sheriffs and their deputies were the first governor-empowered law enforcement officers of the sovereign British colonies that were the original fledgling States of what came to be the United States of America. The U.S. Marshal’s Service was the first law enforcement agency empowered by the United States government to enforce federal or national law. As such, law enforcement, over time, became a standard American reality that served the well-being of the smallest to the largest social entity predicated upon obedience to established law and not to the whims of flippant arbitrary men and women. The function of law enforcement was, and will remain, rooted in the firm unalterable realization in the mind of the governed that law and order will be maintained and enforced by officers empowered to do so through arrest and control powers established by the order of law.
Certainly it remains true that a personal example of law enforcement has much greater persuasive explanatory power than an impersonal one. Consequently, when as a sheriff’s deputy-trainee at the 663-hour 72nd San Diego County Sheriff’s Academy conducted at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California in March 1985, I began what I thought at that time was a career in county law enforcement. After successfully completing fourteen years earlier U.S. Marine Corps boot camp as a distinguished platoon PFC at MCRD San Diego, California and subsequently six years of active-duty in the Vietnam-era Corps, I regarded the oath I took in 1985 to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of California as a mere extension of the oath that I had taken in 1971 to protect the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as a U.S. marine. Just as I had regarded for six years the title of U.S. Marine to be one that heralded justice, honor, protection, and security for those Americans everywhere who couldn’t protect themselves against injustice, I had equally wanted the title of deputy sheriff to herald protection, security, and humble service for the people of the County of San Diego under the county, state. and federal laws that presided over me and all other California peace officers.
Two years earlier, before I had applied in late-1983 and was hired around two years later as a deputy sheriff for San Diego County, I had successfully completed one year, the first year, of law school at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, also in the City of San Diego. So, I understood well criminal law as a lawyer would understand and apply it as either prosecuting criminal offenders or defending them as accused defendants in court proceedings. The most important thing that I had learned in law school and at the sheriff’s academy about people who violate criminal laws was that even though a police officer might witness them doing something “apparently” the joint union and/or operation of a criminal act and an apparent intent to do the act (the legal definition of a crime), that person, the suspect, was totally innocent of that alleged crime until proven guilty in a court of law, and deserved no punitive retribution until being adjudged guilty or not guilty in that court. As I came to understand, a sworn peace officer’s primary duty, under law, was only to investigate, apprehend, and arrest suspects of crimes; and to not presume that the suspects are guilty of the crimes in order exact a measure of vindictive punishment on those suspects. Penalties for crimes are prescribed by statutory law and are only to be applied when a suspect becomes a defendant and is found guilty by a speedy and public trial, by a jury of his peers, in a court of law. That is how the law is written in the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Yet, however, every day there are real-world instances that serve to test the emotional metal of peace officers when those officers in the course of their duties witness acts of sadistic violence committed by the suspects on the innocent victims of the crimes. For example, such as apprehending an male adult suspect in the act of brutally sodomizing and raping a young female child. It would be very difficult indeed for such a normal peace officer to act as though the suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law as he is pulling that rapist off of the child, and not to show anger and rage toward the criminal suspect by exacting some measure of punishment as he notices the stricken condition of the poor victim. In an ideal world, the police officer should say to himself that the suspect should be pitied for being crazy since he couldn’t be in a sane state of mind and do such horrible things, and therefore treated tenderly as a victim of insanity. Yeah, that is an ideal utopian world, which does not exist to any extent. Pure evil exists in the world as pure good does also exist, and in accordance with reality, some people are born without conscience and evil resides within them. During their first five years as sworn police officers, these men and women, with or without uniforms, come to know very well about the existence of evil in the world.
It might surprise most readers to realize that nearly 78 percent of all American police officers are themselves married and have children and, therefore, are husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers. In other words, they are only normal human beings. It would therefore be very difficult for all normal peace officers NOT to not exact some physical measure of emotional outrage for sadistic and violent felons. Peace officers are not unfeeling robots who respond mechanically and coldly to scenes of brutal violence, who can switch off-and-on their feelings and emotions. They are, rather, normally feeling caring human beings who possess consciences as a moral compass. So, what should be said and done about peace officers who lose control of themselves and exact measures of physical punishment on the “apparently” guilty suspect? What should the families of the criminal suspects, the wives, brothers, or sisters be told when the suspect murderers and rapists are carried away smiling in an ambulance with shattered jaws, broken ribs, and severely bruised testicles? Should they be treated with more respect and compassion than the families of the innocent victims? Of course, the peace officers responsible for such physical expressions of emotional outrage against heinous suspects be charged with crimes of abuse Certainly they should, but let’s be a bit more specific about the types of crime enforced by beat cops.
Violently resisting offenders caught by police officers during the commission of crimes have a very important choice to make, to either cease and desist the commission of the crime, lay down all weapons, and not resist being apprehended, arrested, handcuffed, and transported to jail by the officers. Or, the criminal suspect can continue the commission of the crime and physically resist being arrested for the crime, thereby committing another crime called “resisting arrest,” during which a police officer is forced to subdue the recalcitrant suspect through the use of arrest and control techniques, martial arts, or, as a last resort, deadly force. During the sheriff’s academy from which I graduated, I was told, and it was clearly emphasized by the instructors, that the main objective of a police officer during a normal work day was to safely finish the day and go home alive and well. This is the thought that goes through the mind of a patrol officer at the beginning of a shift when the shift sergeant and watch commander dismiss the officers to their beats saying meaningfully and forcefully, “be careful out there.” Most citizens who regularly depend upon the services of police officers for protection of life and property will say, “you couldn’t pay me enough money to do what those people do every day.” The distinguished writer Stephen King has written, in paraphrase, that the human imagination is as much an endless source of thrilling and macabre creativity for the means of entertainment for the good people, as it is a seething pit of designer evil for those people without hearts and souls.
The police use of deadly force, by firearms and tasers, to repel and subdue criminals in the commission of crimes is an official policy and personal state of mind that must be, either accepted, affirmatively by all sworn police officer trainees or those men and women, regardless of their degree of intelligence, level of education, or sense of morality, will not qualify to be acceptable officers. Consequently, all American peace officers must agree to the policy established by their particular State, that when an officer discharges his weapon, handgun, rifle, or shotgun, it is for the purpose of killing that which is being shot, not to wound, whether it be another human being, a violent suspect, or a coiled rattlesnake. In the case of violent suspect Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, Brown attempted to use his brute force and strength against the police officer who was sitting in his police vehicle to obtain the officer’s firearm. The police officer was exonerated in his use of deadly force against Brown. That particular peace officer was doing his best to go home at the end of that fateful day alive and well. If Brown had wrested the firearm from the officer, who knows who would have ended-up in a casket?
In the sensationalized case of James Floyd, the media hyperbole exceeded greatly a rendering of the true and correct facts about the arrest of the criminal suspect, Floyd. The truth that has slowly exuded from obscurity to public view and has recently been shown on TV and the Internet has been much like the Travon Martin case in Florida, when autopsy results revealed that Martin was high on drugs. On realizing Floyd’s criminal past from his arrest and conviction rap-sheet, about which the arresting officers must have known in a matter of minutes after Floyd was arrested and handcuffed, several back-up officers were dispatched to the crime scene. One of those officers was Derek Chauvin. As far as the surveilling cell phone videos were concerned, they collectively showed a professionally competent arrest of a continually resisting suspect, Floyd. Most reasonably-minded people not under the influence of drugs will cease resisting arrest once handcuffs are properly applied by the police officers, but Floyd continued to resist arrest. He adamantly refused to be placed in the police car for transport. That is why he ended-up face down on the pavement by the police.
The arrest and control technique used by Officer Derek Chauvin, the application of a
knee to the back of Floyd’s shoulder and neck was an approved technique for restraining a person in handcuffs. On some suspects, handcuffs are not sufficient when the suspect is resisting with his legs and body. Police officers have no foreknowledge of what drugs suspects have ingested into their bodies, and a drug like PCP can make a suspect powerfully strong enough to break ordinary handcuffs behind their backs. Had Floyd’s hands been loose and uncuffed, Chauvin would not have been able to apply the knee; but the application of the knee restraint did NOT restrict Floyd’s breathing, and it is quite amazing that the particular video recording shown by the media to the public, caught by one cell phone, only revealed Floyd allegedly complaining that he couldn’t breath. I am sure he was saying disparaging remarks to those officers, and probably said quite a few other things, vulgar diatribes and threats, before he had tried to persuade the officers to let him get to his feet. The reasonable person must remember that Floyd was resisting arrest and it was shown on the video that he resisted arrest at lease twice. Yet, Chauvin didn’t apply a carotid restraint to Floyd’s neck, which the officer could have done illegally, but didn’t. Hence, in no way was Floyd’s air supply restricted. That is why there was a professional dispute among pathologists during the official autopsy about the cause of Floyd’s death. Immediately after Floyd’s death from, probably, the drugs he had in his system at the time of his arrest, or a preexisting condition, the Minneapolis Police Department wanted to exact a pound of flesh from Derek Chauvin by blaming him for the death and cutting-its-losses, throwing Chauvin to the dogs. So far, I haven’t heard Chauvin admit to doing anything wrong, and his attorney has not submitted a motion for the unreasonable bail set at 1.25 million dollars. The true facts will hopefully com out during the trial. Regardless. though, Chauvin’s name has been muddied and his reputation tainted. Even if he is acquitted, his life as a cop is over.
Had it been the Secret Service or other federal agents, instead of city cops, who had confronted James Floyd in, and outside, of the store where the suspect had passed counterfeit money, firearms might have been drawn and used to restrain and arrest Floyd, on knowing his criminal history. As far as I am concerned, a police officer can prudently use for purposes of arrest and control any type of reasonable restraint or force that will cause the suspect to comply with police orders to cease and desist. During my six years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I was trained very well in the use of martial arts, kenpo’ and offensive kung fu, and had I used those fighting skills that I acquired and employed in the Corps, and inadvertently killed someone in the process during a fight, even in self-defense, I would have been charged by some DA with using deadly force. That’s why I pretended not to have any martial arts training during the sheriff’s academy, even though the police instructors seemed amazed that I was such a fast learner. The Chuck Norris, “Walker Texas Ranger,” karate brand of arrest and control might exist with the Texas Rangers in some reasonable proportion, but in most cases most police officers do not possess the skill to use martial arts efficiently and prudently.
I wonder what pandemonium would actually occur in the USA if, for just one week (seven days) every sworn federal, State, city, and county police officer refused perform to his or her job and struck collectively for that amount of time. It would probably take a year for law enforcement to undo the damage that would be done by anarchists in those seven days. Unreasonable people, probably well-over a million of them, improperly curse the police when a Floyd or Brown incident occurs without considering the true facts and sore consequences. It is pure lunacy that would cause an unreasonable person to demand that police departments across the nation be defunded. Police officers in most cases work with insufficient resources as it currently exists in most cities and counties across the republic, and police officers don’t report to work because they are forced to do so. They report to work and do the job because they have the desire to be of public service and, in most cases, enjoy what they do to protect and serve. In 95 percent of the cases police officers are just good decent human beings. There are approximately 750,340 sworn State and local cops in the USA, and perhaps 37,000 of those cops are questionably bad cops who should not be sworn officers. That is around 5 percent of the total.
So, as an end thought, just stop and consider what it would be like to need a police officer to keep a James Floyd or a Michael Brown-type from breaking into your home and victimizing you, and you call 911 to hear, “no police officers are currently on duty, and the Ghost Busters are not in town.” Would you irately say to the dispatcher, “I pay taxes and the police have a legal obligation to protect me! They can’t refuse to work.” But contrary to the popular urban myth, police officers are not working under a threat. If they all decided to strike for a week, there is nothing the State or federal government could do to force them back to work. Amazing, huh? Well, when was the last time you simply said “thank you” to a police officer for merely being on duty?